Cybersecurity Concerns Deterring Online Shopping
Recent weeks and months have definitely put the fear of the hacker into American consumer, says a new report that shows U.S. shoppers have recoiled from online shopping amidst cybersecurity concerns.
According to a USA TODAY report, 24 percent of those surveyed said they stopped buying online because they feared for the safety of their personal information. Around 56 percent went further, saying they cut down their Internet surfing to only large, well-known websites and 55 percent say they now check their financial information more frequently for suspicious activity.
The survey also revealed a difference in how people reacted to the recent cyber breaches. Those with lower incomes were more likely to stop shopping online altogether while those with higher incomes changed passwords and simply exercised more caution. Of those surveyed, 34 percent with incomes under $30,000 stopped buying online compared to 15 percent of those with incomes greater than $75,000.
Still others have found new ways, such as using only prepaid cards.
"I mean, at Christmas, chances of being robbed are increased, but do we leave our purses and wallets at home? No. We just do things like shop in pairs, in lit areas etc," said blogger and freelance writer Yolanda Machado from Los Angeles in the USA TODAY piece. "So we have to change our passwords and actually be on top of our accounts, I'm OK with that."
The USA Today survey, conducted with Princeton Survey Research, involved 790 Internet users and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
So what exactly has everybody scared? A cyber wild west.
For starters, there was last year's Target breach. Discovered in December, the Target breach is now considered the largest theft of retail data ever, involving the loss of 40 million credit cards. The effect of such a breach was noticeable in the early months of 2014, where the amount of shoppers at Target stores slipped 10 percentage points from the year before.
Of course, Target wasn't the only retailer hit by cyber attacks. Many more retailers, including Michaels and Neiman Marcus, soon came forth saying they were victims too. The trend was becoming obvious.
And, of course, in recent weeks there's been the hits on notable companies such as eBay, Apple, and Spotify, intensifying the feel that the hackers are gaining the upper hand.
It's not only breaches that has caused a stir recently either. Vulnerabilities such as Heartbleed and the Internet Explorer exploit caused widespread panic and the necessity for almost anyone who is on the Internet to take precautions -- warnings that seem to have been largely ignored.
While it seems the cybercriminals have the edge at the moment, bear in mind that recent months have signaled the start of a more comprehensive outlook on cybersecurity. The White House in particular has been keen on collaborating with the private sector to better protect the American surfer.
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