Forty per cent of Canadians will avoid shopping
online this holiday season due to Internet security concerns, according to a
new survey from the Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft. Online
consumers in Canada are more worried about internet security than their U.S.
counterparts, where only 24 per cent say they will not shop online due to
security concerns.

Almost all (96 per cent) online consumers surveyed believed it is
important to protect themselves online, and most are doing just that. For
example, 68 per cent of online Canadians have at least three to five security
software products installed on their computers. Anti-virus software is the
most commonly used (85%) protection, followed by firewall (67%), email
filtering (64%) and anti-spyware software (60%). Only 33% of Canadians have
web content filtering/blocking software.

According to the survey, 88 per cent of Canadian online consumers feel
that some Internet retailers have not done enough to protect their online
customers. Canada has a high proportion of consumers (73 per cent) who worry
that their family members may not be fully aware of existing online security
threats. By comparison, only 60 per cent of U.S. consumers share the same

Canadians are not yet fully confident in their ability to protect
themselves from key online security threats, including loss of personal
information (81%), identity theft (77%) and unsolicited email or spam (74%).

The survey also indicated that consumers are concerned about e-commerce
transactions when shopping on auction sites, with 79 per cent of the Canadian
respondents worried about bidding/selling goods on auction sites.

“It’s welcoming news that Internet security is top of mind for consumers
this holiday season,” said Al Steel, CAAST spokesperson. “The good news is
that we have found consumers are taking proactive steps to protect themselves
to ensure a safe online shopping experience. The bad news is that the majority
say Internet security concerns will affect their shopping at some level this
year. Our message to consumers is that a user’s most important protection is
his or her own awareness.”

These results are part of a new study commissioned by CAAST and conducted
by Forrester Custom Consumer Research, part of Forrester Research, Inc.,
examining 1,207 Canadian consumers’ Internet security needs and the steps they
are taking to protect their personal information online. The study is part of
a larger survey of more than 4,700 Internet users in Canada, Germany, Great
Britain and the United States.

– Only 64% per cent of Canadians feel a security symbol indicating the
safety of a website would help ease their concerns regarding online
– Three quarters (74 per cent) are likely to seek online security
information from friends, family members and colleagues. Other
sources used include ISP providers (55 per cent) and the web
(55 per cent).

The survey also found that a large percentage of online Canadians are not
familiar with the current terminology used to describe the latest security
threats including ‘pharming’ (70%), ‘phishing’ (56%) or malware (49%).
Seventy eight per cent of Canadians say they would like to be better educated
in matters of self protection against online security threats.
CAAST offers the following tips to help consumers and businesses
recognize and avoid online shopping security risks and have a safe online

1. Install security updates. Programs installed on computers and
operating systems should be updated on a regular basis.
2. Install anti-virus software and make sure it is activated. Most
anti-virus software includes an automatic update feature.
3. Install a firewall. A firewall will protect your computer(s) from
unauthorized access and use by hackers.
4. Trust your instincts. When purchasing software or other products
online, if the price seems “too good to be true,” it probably is.
Take special care to avoid sellers offering “back up” copies of
software. This is a clear indication that the software is illegal.
Also, be wary of compilations of software titles from different
publishers on a single disk or CD.
5. Do your homework. Look for a feedback section on the site and look
for comments about the seller based on previous transactions. Look
for a “trust mark” from a reputable organization, like a BBBOnLine
Seal, to make sure the online retailer is reliable and has a proven
track record of satisfying customers. If in doubt, conduct Web
searches about the site in order to determine its legitimacy.
6. Understand the “Privacy Policy.” Find and read the Web site’s privacy
policies to understand what personal information is being requested
as well as why and how it will be used.
7. Ensure secure payment. Before you give your payment information,
check that the Internet connections you will be using are secure.
8. Check the vendor’s identifying information. If the vendor is
unfamiliar to you, look for an online and offline customer support
contact, especially when shopping for software programs on auction
9. Understand the transaction terms. Get a clear explanation of the
merchant’s policies concerning returns and refunds, shipping costs,
and security and privacy protection, before you complete the
10. Recognize Spam. Indicators that an email is spam include senders
whose names you don’t recognize, typos and misspellings in the
subject line and prices that seem “too good to be true.”