Seven of the 10 safest countries in which to surf the internet are in Africa, with Sierra Leone rated the safest, according to a study by the internet security firm AVG.

Researchers compiled a list of virus and malware attacks by country picked up by AVG security software, with data from more than 127 million computers in 144 countries to determine incidence rates of such attacks. Sierra Leone's average incident rate was one attack for every 692 web surfers. The study was conducted the last week of July.

After Sierra Leone, Niger fared well with one in every 442 surfers likely to be attacked while online.

Although specific factors were not mentioned for considering Sierra Leone as one of the safest in the world, it could be the result of the low level of internet users in the country. Though the low broadband penetration and internet use in African countries have been cited as the major factors for the safest record, AVG Chief Research Officer Roger Thompson wrote on his blog that the research should serve as a warning to those who are travelling to other countries with plans to use the internet.

The Caucasus region was the most vulnerable for online attacks, while by country Turkey, Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have the highest rates of virus and malware attacks. The US ranked ninth with one in every 48 web surfers at risk, while the UK was 30th with a rate of one in 63.