Worldwide online shopping is expected to soar this holiday season, and the threats to shoppers will increase exponentially, security experts have warned.
Webroot Software said that "a surprisingly large number" of internet users are still not taking the necessary steps to safeguard their privacy and personal information while shopping online.
"Today's cyber-criminals are financially motivated and this is a key money-making season for them," said Nick Banks, EMEA managing director at Webroot.
"A high percentage of online shoppers are using their credit and debit cards unaware of the security risks, and it is going to be open season for cyber-criminals."
Webroot recorded a 173 per cent spike in spyware from October to December this year, 20 per cent of which involved new malware.
"Clearly, these thieves are breaking out their finest new malware for the season," said Banks.
A recent survey by Webroot revealed that seven out of 10 respondents worldwide are not concerned about the security of credit or debit card transactions.
Correspondingly, 70 per cent of online shoppers express no misgivings about entering their credit card number when making an online purchase.
However, one out of every seven respondents worldwide has fallen victim to
some form of online fraud, including stolen credit card details or bank account
This percentage was even higher in the US where more than one in five online shoppers had suffered some kind of online fraud, including stolen bank or credit card numbers or identity theft.
The survey also found that Japan is one of the safest countries for online shoppers, possibly because it has the largest number of people shopping on the web with mobile phones and devices secured by wireless providers.
Interestingly, nearly 40 per cent of Japanese online shoppers who use Windows-based PCs have no spyware protection at all.
"By adequately protecting their computers and following a few security steps, consumers can lower their risk of being a victim of cyber-crime," said Banks.
"What we learn by surveying consumers around the world is that people who take the proper precautions have some of the lowest infection rates.
"In today's world of cyber-crime, online shoppers need to tip the scales in their favour by taking every precaution available to ensure a safe holiday season."
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