Internet security is a substantial concern for Canadians, as research finds a reluctance to conduct online transactions. Findings from Ipsos-Reid reveal that roughly one-half of the respondents had worries about transactional interceptions, and more than one-third have suffered an online privacy breach.
The 678 online adults that were polled during June 2003 were nearly equally concerned about credit card interceptions as they were about debit cards: 50 percent were concerned about debit card information being intercepted in transit, with 16 percent reportedly very concerned; 52 percent were concerned about credit card data interceptions, with 18 percent very concerned.
While 65 percent indicated that they were “very” or “somewhat” confident in the efforts of Canadian financial services providers to safeguard their information, the majority were worried about their data after the transaction. Over half (54 percent) state a level of concern about databases housing debit card information, with 58 percent citing similar concerns about credit card information.
These fears are evident in a separate Ipsos-Reid survey conducted during March 2003 of roughly 2,000 Canadians, indicating a rise in online security worries. Roughly one-third (32 percent) of adults who use the Internet for at least one hour per week are more concerned about online security compared to 18 percent in June 2001.
Canadians have cause for caution: 35 percent have suffered a breach of personal information that they submitted online — up from 21 percent in June 2001 and 18 percent in December 2000. Of those who have had their personal information violated online, 95 percent have been subscribed to unwanted e-mail; 29 percent have had their personal data sold or transferred to a third party; and 6 percent have had their personal information made public.
“It seems like we have taken backwards steps in perceptions around online security since the dot-com peak of 2000,” said Steve Mossop, senior vice president of Ipsos-Reid. He adds, “Comparisons to the past show that the level of concern about security and privacy has not changed dramatically over the past three years.”
Security breaches (49 percent) and privacy concerns (34 percent) have posed barriers to Canadian e-commerce, with only 42 percent indicating that they have ever made a purchase online. Three-in-ten respondents feel that the individual Web sites should be responsible for improving online security measures, though only 43 percent say they are confident with the sites’ ability to ensure the security and privacy of online transactions and account information.
Mossop notes, “Despite advances made by online retailers and online security companies to protect Internet users, most still feel vulnerable to having their personal information compromised online.”