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Online retailers concerned by consumer perception of security issues

28 July 2010 - 13:47 by Paul Tissington

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A new study has found that many of the UK's e-commerce firms are worrying about the way in which consumers perceive the threats posed to them by cybercriminals and unsecured websites, rather than actually tackling the real problems which are less well known in the wider population.

Retaining the confidence of customers and clients is the number one concern for 88 per cent of IT managers operating in the UK, according to a survey conducted by security vendor VeriSign.

Other threats like hacks and inherent flaws are largely sidelined in an attempt to secure consumer trust, although this might have the converse effect of leaving retailers more vulnerable to attacks.

The survey found that almost a fifth of each commercial firm's IT budget would be pumped into addressing the way in which consumers perceive the levels of security on a given retailer's site. The UK is unique amongst its European peers in this respect, as no other nation is willing to invest so much in this particular area.

The value of convincing a consumer that a site offers safe shopping online is clearly significant and the figures show that businesses will pay through the nose to hold on to the carefully constructed brand which they have used to build trust with the average online shopper.

VeriSign's Matthew Bruun said that online retailers spent a lot of money during the creation of a retail website, but that all of this could come to nothing if the visitors do not feel that safe shopping online is being promoted and ensured.

Observers have pointed out that VeriSign's research has arrived just as banking firm Citigroup announced the discovery of serious security flaws in its iPhone application, with private data left exposed in some previous versions of the software.