'

Online shoppers unfazed by recent hacks

It seems shopping, too, springs eternal. Early feedback from Web merchants nailed by hackers this week suggests that high-profile denial-of-service attacks that struck Yahoo!

It seems shopping, too, springs eternal.

Early feedback from Web merchants nailed by hackers this week suggests that high-profile denial-of-service attacks that struck Yahoo!, Amazon.com, eBay and others (including ZDNet) are having little impact on online shopping during the busy Valentine's Day period. Click for more. This is despite widespread concern that the hacks would spook security-conscious Net shoppers back to brick-and-mortar stores.

Such a scare would hurt Net merchants who are counting on Valentine's Day sales for their first big boost of the year. Consider that 11.3 million Americans, or 30 percent of online shoppers, are expected to make a Valentine's Day purchase online this year according to Ernst & Young Research.

So far, the short-term fallout appears negligible, perhaps because it appears no consumer data was stolen. Ironically, some sites say sales are up. Consider the MSNBC report that has Yahoo!, the first site to suffer a DoS attack, experiencing its busiest shopping days since Christmas. Even Tuesday, the day of the attack, there was an uptick of retailer orders due to the pre-Valentine's Day rush, according to a Yahoo! spokeswoman. Click for more.

What about the long-term impact? Research suggests the security breaches are likely to discourage inexperienced Net shoppers in general, and women in particular. A recent CyberDialogue survey reveals that of the 33.6 million American women online, nearly 75 percent have not purchased anything on the Net, with 40 percent of those citing security as a major concern.

In a broad sense, I side with ZDII's Larry Dignan, who considers the hacks a bonanza of mostly positive publicity for the affected sites. Click for more. Additional attacks could rapidly reverse that opinion, and theft of personal information would likely yank the rug out from under consumer confidence. But as of this instant, e-commerce appears to have survived the crisis, suggesting that when the going gets tough, the tough still go shopping. Online or off.