Online Shopping Boosted By Security Confidence

With all the chatter about viruses, phishing attacks and all the other mischievous maliciousness online today, you’d think that consumers would be afraid to shop online.

Not so, reports a new Business Software Alliance (BSA) study conducted by
Harris Interactive.

According to 70 percent of the respondents, security concerns did not inhibit them from making online purchases. In fact, 38 percent reported that they actually spent more online in 2005 than they did in 2004.

Concerns about Internet security for online holiday shopping ran highest with older Americans (55 and older), 31 percent of whom indicated either that they were extremely or very concerned about security.

Part of the reason why security concerns were not an obstacle for most stems from the fact that there was a high degree of confidence in computer security mechanisms. More than half (56 percent) noted that they were either very or extremely confident that they were protected from computer viruses.

Respondents were similarly confident in their protection from credit card fraud (50 percent), identity theft (46 percent) and spyware (41 percent).

Consumers’ online security was partially provided by their own PC’s. Most (88 percent) have anti-virus protection, 78 percent have anti-spyware software and 77 percent reported having a firewall. The same percentage (77 percent) indicated they use spam filtering software.

The safest place to shop online? Home. A majority of the respondents (62 percent) said that they thought it was safer to shop online from home than from work (7 percent), a school, library or other public place (1 percent).

The feeling of safety at home was also reflected in where respondents indicated they actually did conduct their online shopping: 90 percent indicated they shopped online from home.

In contrast, only 26 percent admitted they did some online shopping at work or from public locations (2 percent).

“We don’t doubt that the wide availability of effective security software products that detect and fight cyber security threats is helping to restore consumer confidence in the security of online transactions, ” said Diane Smiroldo, BSA’s vice president of public affairs, in a statement.

“Nevertheless, consumers must first recognize that their best defense against potential threats is having a working knowledge of the threats that exist, so that they can make informed decisions about the safety of particular e-commerce sites before they buy,” she said.

The survey solicited the opinions of 2,152 U.S online adults from Dec. 27-29.

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