Following on from the hot news that UK broadband users spend an average of 50 days a year online, it turns out that we're not even doing anything interesting. Yup, when it comes to using the net, the British attitude is 'safety first'.

'Who so defames our racy ways?' I hear you mutter apologetically. Why, it's one of our own. The BCS (British Computer Society), no less.

Maintain that stiff upper lip, however, as this is the kind of attitude that once painted the globe pink. Because UK consumers take computer security seriously, we are enjoying a boom in online shopping and internet banking.

According to the survey, the number of online home consumers in Britain has increased by more than two million in the past year (15.2 million to 17.4 million).

More than 90 percent of home surfers protect themselves against online threats such as viruses, spam and spyware. A similar proportion takes steps to avoid fraud when shopping or banking online.

More than half of online shoppers make use of secure payment areas on websites. A similar number limit their purchases to trusted or well-known retailers.

"Installing antivirus software and a firewall is vital; likewise using a dedicated payment service, or secure payment area of a website when purchasing online," said BCS chief executive David Clarke.

"Without taking these precautions users can run into many problems, including losing files or releasing personal banking information with the serious risk of being defrauded or having their ID cloned."

Finally shaking off our staid image, it appears that online shoppers spend an average of £164 a month, which seems like a huge amount to me. One can only hope that the results of such rampant purchasing comprise mainly tweed clothing, sensible shoes and a selection of conserves to get through the winter. Standards must be maintained.