Online security trumps cost for Americans - survey

Source: VeriSign

The findings of a recent consumer survey conducted by Synovate and commissioned by VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN), the trusted provider of Internet infrastructure services for the networked world, suggest that consumers may be willing to forgo gimmicks and spend a little more online if they know their identities are protected.

The survey results reveal that 85 percent of consumers state that trusting the site is most important when interacting on a Web site and sharing confidential information. In contrast, nine percent said competitive pricing was most important and five percent said ease of use was most important. Additionally, 93 percent of respondents said they would stop transacting on a site that's not secure.

Findings also concluded that 76 percent of consumers claimed that identity theft is a "major" concern for them. When asked how they felt about brands that did not protect their online identity, 56 percent felt "distrustful," 17 percent felt "disappointed," 13 percent felt "betrayed," six percent felt "indifferent," and four percent felt "let down." Finally, one in five engage in fewer online activities due to security concerns.

"Identity theft can be an avoidable evil, and as our research indicates, security-savvy consumers will put their money where their trust is," said Fran Rosch, senior vice president of Products and Strategy for VeriSign. "These consumers understand that the repercussions of identity theft outweigh the few dollars they may be able to save by shopping on a questionable Web site, which is why 85 percent opt for sites they trust."

Before the Internet, businesses won trust through personal references and offline indicators such as a hand shake, exceptional service or having a physical storefront to walk into. In today's online world, trust is still at the apex of all customer relationships, but it's earned by providing security mechanisms like two-factor authentication, encryption, and validation that the Web site is authentic.

The survey uncovered other key findings on how consumers protect their identities today when conducting transactions online:

  • 86 percent use a simple user name and password to enter accounts
  • 62 percent look for the lock icon in the address bar
  • 55 percent look for a logo or seal from the firm providing Internet security
  • 52 percent look for https:// in the address bar
  • 26 percent look for a green address bar

When asked how much savings they'd expect before considering shopping on an unprotected site, one in three consumers said they would expect at least a 30 percent discount. This finding suggests that businesses that don't provide security measures to gain consumer trust cannot anticipate getting the same value for their goods.

"The best security for consumers is education and using the latest tools and technologies that are out there to help counter fraud," said Craig Spiezle, chairman and founder of the Authentication and Online Trust Alliance (AOTA). "As we move more and more of our lives online -- for example, banking, shopping, paying bills, communicating, registering, renewing, etc. -- fraud threats follow closely behind. The key is to keep one step ahead by knowing how to protect yourself online, embracing best practices and using the latest technologies. Today more than ever users need to update their browsers with integrated security and privacy features to help stay ahead of the criminals."

About the Survey

The survey, which polled 919 U.S. adults 18+ who spend at least three non-work hours per week online, explores the degree to which consumers are concerned about online security, seeks to understand the role that security plays in consumer perceptions of online brands, and gauges consumers' interest and familiarity with authentication services on the market today.

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