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UK consumers continue to harbour unsafe online shopping habits

22 November 2010 - 11:45 by Simon Crisp

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Research from security software firm Webroot, has found that consumers in the UK and from around the globe are still unable to practice safe shopping online, because of bad habits which put their personal data and privacy at risk of compromise.

More than 2500 people from the UK, North America and Australia were questioned as part of a yearly look at the way in which consumers indulge in e-commerce.

While 55 per cent of respondents said they would be buying most presents for the festive season using the internet, an increase of 17 per cent compared to 2009, the report concluded that many are actually operating online in a way that is less safe and secure than in the past.

Forty-eight per cent of shoppers will directly consult a major search engine when looking for presents rather than opting to use a site with which they have previously shopped.

The issue with this approach is that phishing sites and criminals attempt to exploit the search engines to get their malicious links into the higher echelons of the results and the survey found that 59 per cent of consumers trust the highest ranked links. This represents an increase of 21 per cent over last year's figures, which could make easier the job of cybercriminals.

Many consumers said that they would piggyback on a publicly available Wi-Fi network in order to buy gifts for Christmas 2010, which again puts them at risk from hacking and malware infection.

Webroot's Jeff Horne, said that one out of every seven respondents to the survey had experienced fraud as a result of online shopping in the past year. Fifty-seven per cent also reported receiving spam mail which emulated a big-name brand in order to deceive consumers.

Mr Horne recommends that those who want to be assured of safe shopping online should only use sites they trust, visit them directly and look out for obvious scams.