Despite more people doing their Christmas shopping online this year than ever before, many are still holding back due to fears over internet security. That's according to a new report from the GetSafeOnline Government-backed campaign. It claims that over one in five still avoid shopping online because of security concerns over their card details and personal information.
It's estimated that UK Christmas shoppers will spend over £13 billion online this year - that's a 42 per cent increase on last year. But while many feel confident about the security of their PC or laptop, it's the broader issues connected with online shopping that now cause the most concern.
Misuse of credit or debit card details and scam websites that don't delivery the ordered items are among the threats shoppers are most vulnerable to, and less savvy about.
As is the usual advice, if you remain vigilant when shopping online and keep an eye out for the warning signs, you should be fine. "If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is," says Tony Neate, managing director of GetSafeOnline.org.
Cyber criminals looking to cash in
According to a report from Trend Micro, cyber criminals have been preparing for the Christmas shopping period for months. Online shoppers entering common phrases into search engines - such as "Christmas gift shopping" - will see links near the top of the results leading directly to malicious sites hosting a range of malware, warns the security vendor.
"Since September, cyber criminals have been boosting their search engine rankings using a variety of methods such as 'comment spam' and 'blog spam' in preparation for the Christmas period," says Raimund Genes of Trend Micro. "With shoppers visiting these sites likely to purchase goods online after infection, their credit card details become a main target for cyber criminals looking for financial gains this season."
The malicious sites have also been found to harbour HTML tags that redirect and install more malware on affected systems. Trend Micro suggests using security software that's able to block malicious content on web pages, breaking the chain before any infection can take place.
If you can bring yourself to shop online, you'd better hurry - today is Amazon.co.uk's last day for free posting before Christmas.