The majority of Brits (97 percent) believe online hacking is an issue society needs to be worried about, says PC Tools.

Research of more than 2,000 web users by the security firm revealed one in six are 'disappointed' by how the police have handled recent attacks by groups such as Anonymous and LulzSec on high-profile organisations including Sony, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and News International. Furthermore, 20 percent admitted they had lost trust in firms following the an attack.

Two in five Brits say hacking is never justified regardless of the motive behind the attack and even if personal details are not leaked. Two thirds also said they class hackers as criminals, with more than half believe their dishonest and a third viewing them as antisocial. Just five percent see hackers as heroic.

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Two in five think tougher penalties for hackers is the best way to handle the problem, while the same amount think hackers should be channelling their skills into help firms and the government protect against further attacks. Furthermore, 39 percent believe businesses should be investing in better security measures

Professor Majid Yar, a cybercrime expert from the University of Hull who worked with PC Tools on the survey, said: "The tougher penalty approach has its flaws. In reality, very few members of the public actually know what the penalties are for those convicted - which in the UK is up to 5 years in prison - or how few hacking incidents actually ever lead to arrest and conviction, since it is so difficult to identify those responsible".

"The most viable way to protect computer users from hacking are: better security, technological counter-measures and user precautions."

Richard Clooke from PC Tools, added the results show web users are no longer prepared to sit back and become targets for cybercriminals. He advised Brits to use strong unique passwords for each online account, check the authenticity of sites before purchasing good online and ensure they have up-to-date security software.

"It is important we don't allow hackers to prevent us from enjoying our digital lifestyle," he said.