Online shoppers continue to engage in risky behavior

Findings from a new McAfee survey reveal the risky habits of online shoppers, including using unsecured Wi-Fi for online shopping and purchasing items from online retailers they are not fully confident are genuine (51 percent). This highlights the need for consumers to slow down and consider the risks of unsafe purchasing behavior that could lead to identity theft or financial loss.

online risky behavior

Last year consumers spent $453.46 billion on the web for retail purchases, which was a 16 percent increase over 2016. Unfortunately, when it comes to online shopping, consumers are more concerned about finding the lowest price than potentially jeopardizing their personal cybersecurity in the process.

The survey found that 56 percent of consumers are willing to use a website they are unfamiliar with, if this means they can save money on their purchases. Even worse, 31 percent admit to clicking links in suspicious emails for better deals.

“For most people, the holiday shopping season is a stressful time of year, especially from a financial perspective. With added stresses and distractions, people often let their guard down when it comes to their digital security, which can lead to risky consequences,” said Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at McAfee. “Cybercriminals know that people are less focused on security measures during this time and use that to their advantage. By taking the proper steps to protect themselves and being wary of deals and offers that appear to be too good to be true, consumers can enjoy a safe holiday season.”

The United States of Online Shopping

The McAfee survey also examined cross country behaviors, identifying the states that exhibit the safest online behavior. Residents in Washington are most likely to stay cyber-safe during the holidays, with nearly 80 percent of respondents claiming they are very unlikely to click on a link in an unfamiliar email.

Conversely, New York residents are the most likely to fall victim to a cybercriminal, with 80 percent claiming that they are more careless when shopping online due to the financial stress of the season. Shoppers in Delaware reported that they do not monitor their bank and credit card statements during the holidays, while 70 percent of survey participants in Illinois noted that they are willing to risk their email addresses, phone numbers, home addresses and bank account details for an online deal.

The states where residents are most likely to fall victim to a cybercriminal are:

1. New York
2. Illinois
3. New Mexico
4. Kansas
5. California

The states where residents are least likely to fall victim to a cybercriminal are:

1. Washington
2. South Dakota
3. Minnesota
4. Nevada
5. Hawaii

Tips for consumers

Connect with caution. Using public Wi-Fi might seem like a good idea in the moment, but if consumers are not careful, they could be unknowingly exposing their personal information or credit card details to cybercriminals who are snooping on the network. If public Wi-Fi must be used to conduct transactions, use a VPN to help ensure a secure connection.

Think before you click. One of the easiest ways for a cybercriminal to target victims is by using phishing emails disguised as holiday savings or shipping notification, to lure consumers into clicking links that could lead to malware, or a phony website designed to steal personal information. Instead of clicking on a link in an email, it is always best to check directly with the source to verify an offer or shipment.

Browse with security protection. Use comprehensive security protection that can help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks and other threats.

Use a tool to help protect your personal information. Use a solution that takes a proactive approach to help protect identities with personal and financial monitoring and recovery tools to help keep identities personal and secure.

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