Over 92 percent of households in Estonia have an internet connection at home, state agency Statistics Estonia reports, a rise of 2 percent on 2021, though in some demographics the large increases in usage seen during the pandemic have slowed somewhat.
Epp Remmelg, Statistics Estonia analyst, said: "It is worth noting, however, that at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, internet use in older age groups was up as much as 17 percent, whereas this year it has increased only 5 percent."
The majority of those polled in the use the internet several times a day, with only one in seven using it less often, Remmelg added.
Political and civic issues had also drawn people to the ´net more, Remmelg added, as had the earlier need to obtain Covid certification.
"Compared with last year, the biggest increases occurred in participation in online debates or polls on civic or political issues and in downloading documents. The latter is directly linked to the need to download a Covid passport and vaccination certificate – as many as 74 percent of internet users did so," Remmelg went on.
Conversely, e-commerce, which saw a boom at the peak of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, has seen a decline as society opened up again – though this has had the effect on a rise in the use of the web to, for instance, obtain tickets to the types of events which were mostly off-the-table during the pandemic.
Remmelg said: "The structure of online shopping has changed compared with last year and the overall pattern is similar to the pre-pandemic period. Online store purchases of household goods and, to a lesser extent, food and consumer goods have fallen. One in three of those who used e-commerce last year bought household goods, whereas only one in four did so this year."
At the same time, with the easing of coronavirus restrictions, there has been a sharp increase in the online purchase of tickets for various events, accommodation services and other travel services as well as related insurance policies.
The number of these purchases, however, has not yet reached 2019 levels, she said. "17 percent of e-commerce users have bought investment products such as shares, funds, and bonds – a higher proportion than ever before."
The Statistics Estonia survey, conducted in the second quarter of this year, also found the following:
- Internet is still used by nearly all (99 percent) of younger people and those in early middle age (up to 44 years).
- The number of internet users decreases from the age of 45 onwards, with 85 percent of 55–64-year-olds.
- 69 percent of people of retirement age (65–74-year-olds) using the internet.
- The most common purposes of using the internet are e-mail (91 percent of respondents cited this) and internet banking (91 percent of respondents), as well as finding information (86 percent) and reading online newspapers and magazines (87 percent).
- The number of e-shoppers also fell slightly due to the end of coronavirus-related restrictions.
- Purchases from Estonian e-shops have fallen, while orders from e-shops of other European countries have risen by 5 percent.
- More than half of internet users use a smart TV with access to the internet.
- Two out of five people, however, use internet-controlled home appliances such as thermostats, lights, security cameras, alarms, or internet-connected household appliances like robotic lawn mowers or vacuum cleaners.
Businesses need to protect themselves from security threats
The Statistics Estonia survey also found that enterprises are plagued by security issues, in part due to a shortage of technology (ICT) specialists .
Last year, more than a quarter of enterprises experienced at least one security incident in which an ICT service was unavailable, data was lost or corrupted, or confidential data was leaked.
A more serious problem was an ICT security incident in which ICT services were unavailable due to hardware or software failures or external attacks. 24 percent of enterprises experienced this issue, Statistics Estonia says.
Data was lost or corrupted because of software failures, malware infection or unauthorized intrusion in 4 percent of enterprises. 2 percent of enterprises were faced with a leak of confidential data.
Sixty-two percent of enterprises educate their employees about ICT security, either through mandatory or voluntary training and reading materials or by having ICT security rules as part of their employment contract.
Thirty-seven percent of enterprises have documents on ICT security assessment, practices, and procedures, which is up by 9 percentage points from 2019 when enterprises were surveyed on ICT security.
A little more than half (55 percent) of enterprises used an external service provider for ICT security-related tasks such as security testing, ICT security training, and incident response. Thirty-seven percent of companies have their own staff performing ICT-related duties, including ICT security tasks.
Seventeen percent of enterprises in 2022 had ICT specialists on their payroll, which is one percentage point more than in 2020, while just 8 percent of businesses hired, or tried to hire, ICT specialists last year.
Recruitment of ICT specialists proved particularly challenging for large enterprises, and both a shortage of candidates plus a lack of experience in the field of ICT were identified as the main problems.
The Covid era was followed by many enterprises adopting new digital solutions to keep in touch, with 46 percent of companies using online platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, MS Teams, WebWx, etc, to communicate, and around three-quarters of enterprises had set up access to company's business applications and software for their employees.
Statistics Estonia conducts its survey on the use of ICT in households, by users aged 16–74 in the second quarter each year, according to a harmonized methodology used by statistical offices in all EU countries
The 2022 survey covered 3,400 enterprises with 10 or more employees.
Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Statistics Estonia