Over a million UK consumers have been victims of security breaches while shopping via the Internet, according to a survey by online research company Tickbox.net for LogicaCMG.
More than one in 20 consumers experienced attempted or actual theft of financial or personal details whilst shopping on the Internet.
The research shows that almost a quarter (24%) of those affected defected to an alternative online brand while 23% decided not to buy anything from that company again.
Nearly three quarters of consumers (73%) say security is more important than price, quality or convenience when shopping online and 70% would boycott a Web site even if they only had word of mouth evidence that the brand had been involved in a security scare.
When asked if they would continue to use a Web site if their financial data was stolen, 79% claimed they would stop shopping online, while two thirds (65%) said they would stop shopping with the company altogether - both online and at high street stores. One in five would need to be more convinced by retailers that financial details are secure in order to carry on using the service.
Dave Martin, principal security consultant, LogicaCMG, says the figures demonstrate that consumers will vote with their feet if they lose trust in brands: "With online sales from British consumers predicted to be £17 billion this year and 20 million UK consumers shopping online, these findings will make businesses aware of how costly a security failure can be to its brand."
Citing statistics from IT securiy organisation The Honeynet Project, Martin says there are many recorded instances where a new Web site has been successfully attacked within 15 minutes of it being launched.
However, almost half of those surveyed (47%) claimed they would feel more concerned about using wireless channels to make purchases than using the Internet.