As the holiday shopping season gains momentum, many consumers are turning to online retailers for their gift purchases. Concerns about staffing shortages and COVID-19 protocols are factors driving shoppers out of stores and onto the internet.
As a result, merchants are rapidly shifting to e-commerce, and more sensitive information is being processed and stored for online purchases — this indicates that cybersecurity threats could remain prevalent.
A recent analysis on the state of secure online holiday shopping sheds light on consumer views of cybersecurity. This survey was released by international technology services company NTT Ltd., which manages online security systems for businesses. Its data indicates that the benefits of online shopping outweigh the security risks for consumers, even for those who’ve previously had their personal information exposed.
Shoppers naive to online risk
When asked about threats to the future, consumers in a separate survey said they were more concerned about cybercrimes than pandemics or global warming for future generations. But that doesn't mean they have a clear understanding of how to stay safe from these threats.
Despite roughly a fourth of respondents telling NTT they've experienced credit card or identity theft due to online shopping, 58% still feel that their data is protected when shopping online.
The majority of respondents (57%) say they feel more secure storing their credit card information in retail mobile apps than on e-commerce sites (19%). This indicates a false notion that it's safe to allow any retailer to store your payment information, whether in an app or not.
Only 25% of respondents say they would stop doing business with a retailer that experienced a security breach — though that number increases to 46% among those who would leave if their credit card information was compromised.
What shoppers are doing right
Despite having some misconceptions about online shopping security, consumers also report taking important safety measures to protect their information. According to the survey:
- 76% check to ensure that e-commerce websites have a secure HTTPS connection
- 73% rarely or never click advertisements, emails or social media promotions that offer a deal
- 63% don’t shop while connected to a public Wi-Fi network
- 51% use two-factor authentication
These steps alone could help defend against some of the most common online scams. According to the FBI, sticking to secure websites and avoiding promotional emails and special offers are among the best measures to prevent your credit card information from being compromised.
Other important safety measures include:
- Using unique and complex passwords for each of your accounts
- Making online purchases with a credit card rather than a debit card (credit cards aren’t tied to your cash accounts and purchases made with credit can be disputed more easily)
Still, NTT notes that merchants themselves can also help protect customer safety and reduce their liability for the fallout of a potential data breach by investing in improved security for their online applications.
Methodology: The data is derived from a SurveyMonkey Audience survey conducted by NTT Application Security from Oct. 5 to Oct. 6, 2021, among 1,057 U.S. consumers ages 18 and older.