Holiday Shoppers Guard against Web Risks; Software, Increased Awareness Help Alleviate Concerns, Survey Finds

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Byline: Dan Caterinicchia, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Millions of Americans will spend billions of dollars online in the coming weeks, and although they have concerns about the safety of Internet-based transactions, they are taking steps to ensure secure online shopping, according to a new survey of Web consumers.

More than 60 percent of consumers said Internet security threats would affect their online holiday shopping and 24 percent said they would not shop online this year, according to a survey released yesterday by the Business Software Alliance, a Washington group that represents the commercial software industry.

The survey of 1,099 U.S. consumers also found that 84 percent of respondents think that some Internet retailers have not done enough to protect their customers and 76 percent would like to be better educated on how to protect themselves. The survey was commissioned by the business group and conducted in late October and early November by Forrester Custom Consumer Research.

"Consumers are looking to [online] vendors to increase their comfort level ... and consumers are willing to do more themselves," said Neil MacBride, vice president of legal affairs at the Business Software Alliance.

"Even with people's concerns about cybersecurity, they continue to go to the Web for a high volume of e-commerce," he said. "The most important protection is their own awareness of their cybersurroundings."

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents used anti-virus software on their computers to better protect themselves and 67 percent also have installed anti-spyware programs.

Mr. MacBride said this is the first year the group has focused its survey on online holiday shopping. …