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RISMEDIA, November 24, 2010—As the holiday shopping season and Cyber Monday approach, a growing majority of Americans—64%—report they have not made an online purchase from a specific website because of security concerns, according to a national poll recently released by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), conducted by Zogby International.

When asked to explain why they did not make that purchase, 60% said it was because they were not sure if the site was secure, 51.4% were worried about providing information requested, and 48.4% felt a website requested more information than was necessary for the transaction. Respondents were given the option to pick more than one reason.

“The Internet is a fabulous, convenient resource for gift givers to get a jumpstart on their holiday shopping and bargain hunting, but people need to stay aware and alert about the risks,” said NCSA Executive Director Michael Kaiser. “If there is any doubt about the security or authenticity of a website, hold off making the purchase.”

Despite some security concerns, online shopping is a popular activity for Americans. The poll found that 69.3% research potential purchases over the Internet, 68% make purchases online, 62.4% make online payments, and 38% buy goods from online auction sites.

As a new area for security awareness, more Americans are shopping from their mobile phones, with those making online payments doubling to 8% from last year. Those researching potential purchases from their phones also grew to 16%, up from 9% in 2009. A recent study published by NCSA and Norton by Symantec found that 87% of Americans felt safer going online with their PCs than with their phones, spotlighting, new opportunities for consumer and industry awareness with the growth of mobile devices.

“Businesses should take note: online customers are looking to make purchases where they see signs that a website is secure, have a clear understanding of how information collected about them is going to be used, and only information necessary to the transaction is being collected,” Kaiser added. “Online shoppers are being smarter and safer online, and that’s good for everyone.”

Stop. Think. Connect.
As we prepare for Cyber Monday and a holiday season of shopping online, NCSA advises that everyone take a moment to practice “Stop. Think. Connect.” The first coordinated online safety message adopted by a large coalition of government, industry and nonprofit organizations, “Stop. Think. Connect.” applies to everyone who connects to the Internet, whether from laptops, personal computers, mobile phones, or gaming consoles. Before you connect to the Internet, take a moment to evaluate that you’re prepared to share information or engage in a larger community. This will bring an increased sense of personal security, confidence, and peace of mind.

“Stop. Think. Connect.” is a good habit for shopping online this holiday season. To help consumers adopt this practice, NCSA offers four tips for consumers to better remain safe and secure while buying gifts online:

Keep a clean machine. Check to make sure that all software, especially security, Web browsers and operating systems are up-to-date and set to update automatically.

Protect your personal information. When opening new accounts, use long and strong passwords. Only provide the minimal amount of information needed to complete a transaction. When providing personal information for any purchase or other reason, ensure that you know who is asking for the information, and why the need it.

Connect with care. When shopping, check to be sure a website is security enabled. Look for Web addresses with “https:/” or “shttp://,” which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information during financial transactions. Be wary of holiday shopping efforts to lure you. Cyber crooks will adjust to the holiday season, trying to get you to click through to deals that may appear too good to be true. They may also try to trick you by sending e-mails that something has gone wrong with an online purchase.

Be Web wise. Research sellers before a first time purchase from a merchant (or auction seller) new to you. Search to see how others have rated them, and check their reviews. Do these things even if you are a return customer, as reputations can change.

For more information, visit www.stopthinkconnect.org or www.staysafeonline.org.

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