Report: Women E-Shoppers Most Troubled by Hacker Attacks

New research data shows that women who regularly shop online are much more concerned than men about the safety of e-commerce after the recent spate of hacker attacks on such well known sites as eBay, Yahoo!, and CNN.

The poll data, from the eBrain division of the Consumer Electronics Association, shows that among the respondents, awareness of the attacks was very high. More than 90 percent said they had at least some knowledge of what happened.

Are Women More Cautious?

When asked how they will react to the attacks, 24 percent of women polled said that they will be “much more concerned about shopping online,” and 16 percent will be “somewhat more concerned.” Equal to the percentage of women who are concerned at all — 40 percent — is the group that said it will not be fazed by the attacks and will conduct “business as usual” on the Web.

By comparison, only 19 percent of men will be “much more concerned,” and 13 percent will be “somewhat more concerned.” As could be expected, few in either category said that they would start shopping on the Internet more because of the attacks.

The disparity between the attitudes toward online shopping is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the eBrain poll essentially confirms prior studies that have linked security concerns and reticence by women to make online purchases. As reported by the E-Commerce Times earlier this year, although almost half of Internet users are women, they do more information gathering and interacting than shopping compared to men.

Cyber Dialogue, which has studied online shopping trends over the past five years, argues that women do not enjoy online shopping as much and are far more concerned than men about the security of shopping online.

Before the hacker attacks, Cyber Dialogue showed that 65 percent of women versus 57 percent of men believe it is too easy to have a credit card stolen online, and 43 percent of the women surveyed said that they believe the Internet presents a serious threat to their personal privacy.

How to Proceed

Though Internet users are mixed about whether they will change their buying habits, a PC Data Online poll shows that some 90 percent of respondents say that they are at least a little worried about the hacker attacks.

The researcher reports that 28 percent of Internet users say the government needs to step up its policing of the Web, while 21 percent say that individual Web sites are responsible for maintaining their own security. Among other choices, 17 percent each said that private industry, the online community as a whole, and some international organization should handle making the Internet more secure.

Eighty percent of those polled by PC Data Online said that hackers should be “prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” but 26 percent also agreed that there is such a thing as “harmless hacking.” In addition to formal law enforcement responses to the attacks, slightly more than half said they would probably alter their online habits.

Among those who would, the overwhelming majority said the first change to make would be sending credit card information over the Web less frequently.

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