Nearly half Net users put off by security fears

Security problems begin to take a toll on consumers, suggests new research
Written by Will Knight, Contributor

Nearly half all Internet users are put off Web sites, fearing them to be insecure, according to research published Wednesday.

The research, commissioned by e-commerce firm Equifax, says 47 percent of those questioned have clicked away from a Web site when asked to enter credit card information. Eighty-seven percent of those admitted they it was due to concerns over security.

The statistic follows a spate of high profile Web attacks or security blunders from high profile names including Powergen and BT. The research suggests Internet shoppers have taken note of the incidents, preferring to put their trust in traditional means of spending their money.

Those questioned were not put off forever however: 75 percent of said they would shop online more often if they were certain about security.

Why they're scared:

It's been a difficult year for security standards for some of the UK's most high profile Internet players. In January, two UK banks, the Halifax and Egg.com, were both exposed by online security incidents which left customer information vulnerable. In July, utilities firm Powergen was forced to ask thousands of its customers to cancel credit cards after a Web site blunder left a database of card details exposed. More recently, Barclays bank fell foul to a security problem that left accounts exposed and forced it to shut down its Web site. In the summer, BT revealed the names and details of hundreds of customers who had signed up for its ADSL service.

Standards watchdogs including the Consumer Association have repeatedly warned that such online security incidents could have an increasingly damaging effect on customer confidence.

"Even with the continuing occurrence of high profile security breaches, many of the security measures available are not being deployed to the extent they should be and little attempt is being made to educate consumers in a common sense way," says Ian McKinnon, director of EquifaxSecure -- a division of Equifax -- in a release.

"To address consumers' concerns, businesses must prioritise and take seriously their Internet business security needs," he says.

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