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Survey: Web and Mobile Shoppers Should Take Extra Measures to Stay Safe Online this Holiday Season

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the holiday season kicks-off and Cyber Monday approaches, a new survey released by National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and McAfee reveals that online shoppers should take extra measures to secure their purchases on the Web.  While Americans are increasingly relying on Internet connected devices to browse online stores, research products and goods, and make purchases, the survey shows that a majority (90%) do not feel completely safe online. (The full survey is available at: http://www.staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/resources/.)

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Americans' concern about being safe and secure on the Internet is based on experience. In the past year, over one in four (26 percent) Americans received notification by a business, online service provider or organization that their personally identifiable information (e.g. password, credit card number, email address, etc.) was lost or compromised because of a data breach.

Forester Research, Inc. predicts that this year's online retail shopping will show a fifteen percent increase from 2011 sales figures to over 68 billion– which is all the more reason for consumers to improve their online safety posture. While those using PCs and mobile devices for shopping and online commerce do exhibit good instincts, the NCSA/McAfee Online Safety Study found that there are also some vulnerabilities in their online safety preparedness and behavior.

  • In the last six months, thirty-percent of Americans have researched potential purchases using a smartphone; 33 percent conducted mobile banking; 27 percent shopped; 25 percent made online payments; and seven percent purchased goods from an auction site.
  • While nearly 30 percent of smartphone owners shopped online in the last six months, 63 percent have never installed security software/apps to make their device more secure from viruses or malware.
  • Twenty-eight percent of respondents say they stopped or abandoned a purchase on a website because of a safety or security concern.
  • Of those who abandoned their transaction, 57 percent were unsure if the website was secure; 42 percent say the website requested more information than was necessary and 34 percent were unsure about the legitimacy of the website.

"Holiday shoppers can expect cybercriminals to be out in force this season," said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance. "Shoppers should be alert to scams and other attempts to lure them to provide personal and financial information that could lead to data loss or the infection of an Internet connected device. We encourage everyone to STOP. THINK. CONNECT. and make sure they have taken security precautions, understand the consequences of actions and behavior and enjoy the benefits of holiday shopping online."

"It will be even easier this holiday season to save money and take advantage of good deals with the convenient access to shop on the plethora of Internet connected gadgets," says Gary Davis, vice president of Global Consumer Marketing. "However, McAfee Labs expects that there will be more scams targeted at social media deals, ads, posts and 'likes' related to holiday shopping. As shoppers try to save money and time by using their mobile devices they may also be getting scammed in the process. Mobile threats are also growing, and this new survey illustrates the need for consumers to protect all of their devices—including smartphones and tablets."

McAfee also recently released a list of the most popular scams on the Internet during the holiday season. Consumers can find them here: https://blogs.mcafee.com/consumer/12-scams-of-christmas-2012.

Every year more and more people turn to the Internet as a way to find bargains and conveniently fulfill their shopping list. As shoppers prepare for Cyber Monday and a holiday season of increased online shopping, consumers should take steps to increase their safety, security and confidence online with these simple tips.

  • Keep a Clean Machine: All the devices you use for shopping - including smartphones and tablets - should have up-to-date software including security software, operating systems and other key programs and apps.
  • When in Doubt, Throw it Out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it's best to delete it.
  • Think Before you Act: Be wary of communications that offer amazing deals that sound too good to be true, implore you to act immediately - including indicating a problem with an order or payment—or ask you to view the website or an account via a provided link.
  • Protect your Personal Information: Be alert to the kinds and amount of information being collected during transactions. Information requested should only be enough to complete the transaction. Only fill out required fields on checkout forms. Check the website's privacy policy.
  • Use Safe Payment Options: Credit cards are generally the safest option. They allow buyers to seek a credit from the issuer if the product isn't delivered or isn't what was ordered. Credit cards may limit the monetary amount you will be responsible for if your account is compromised. Never send cash through the mail or use a money-wiring service.
  • Make Sure the Site is Legitimate: This includes a closed padlock on your web browser's address bar or a URL address that begins with shttp or https. Check reviews of sites you have never used before.
  • Keep a Paper Trail: Save records of your online transactions, including the product description, price, online receipt, terms of the sale, and copies of any email exchange with the seller.

The full survey along with a holiday shopping tips sheet is available at the NCSA Web portal: http://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/resources/top-tips-for-safe-online-holiday-shopping/. NCSA supporters can get the latest news and updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/staysafeonline and on Twitter at @StaySafeOnline.

Survey Methodology

JZ Analytics conducted the online safety survey. The survey firm, founded by John Zogby, surveyed 1,000 adults nationwide from August 31, 2012 to September 3, 2012. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percentage points and margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

About The National Cyber Security Alliance
The National Cyber Security Alliance is a non-profit organization. Through collaboration with the government, corporate, non-profit and academic sectors, the mission of the NCSA is to educate and empower a digital citizenry to use the Internet securely and safely protecting themselves and the technology they use and the digital assets we all share. NCSA board members include: ADP, AT&T, Bank of America, EMC Corporation, ESET, Facebook, Google, Intel, McAfee, Microsoft, PayPal, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Symantec, Trend Micro, Verizon and Visa. Visit www.staysafeonline.org for more information and join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/staysafeonline

The campaign was developed by the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Messaging Convention, a public-private partnership established in 2009 and led by The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) and National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to develop and support a national cybersecurity awareness campaign.  The Department of Homeland Security provides the Federal Government's leadership for the campaign. Industry, government, non-profits and education institutions participate in STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Learn how to get involved at the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/STOPTHINKCONNECT, on Twitter at @STOPTHNKCONNECT, and the campaign website at www.stopthinkconnect.org.

SOURCE National Cyber Security Alliance

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