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Studies Highlight Threats Facing Online Buyers and Sellers

Two surveys show most people are not up to date on staying safe online, and that could have major ramifications for online sellers. Not only can their shoppers become victims, online sellers are also vulnerable.

One study focused on the threat of ransomware. Kaspersky Lab said almost half (43%) of connected consumers today do not know what ransomware is, despite the recent aggressive spread of this type of cyber threat.

“Ransomware is a type of malware that can systematically encrypt files on a hard drive that typically cannot be unlocked or decrypted without the encryption key,” the company explained. “By restricting access to an infected computer or mobile system, the attacker has the ability to demand that the user pay them a ransom in order to remove the encryption restricting the victim’s access to their files and data.”

The survey found that 44% of respondents did not know what data or information could be stolen in a ransomware attack.

Kaspersky Lab commissioned the research firm Opinion Matters to survey over 4,000 U.S. and 1,000 Canadian consumers aged 16 and older. The survey revealed that only a small number (16%) of consumers mentioned ransomware as a cyber threat they were worried about, compared to their concern of viruses, spyware and Trojans.

Interestingly, only 13% of Millennials said they were worried about ransomware in general.

“As a malware that can restrict access to a computer system so it becomes difficult or impossible to access, ransomware has become a danger to individuals and businesses alike.”

And many respondents would not know what to do if a ransom attack occurred. The survey found that 15% of Americans and 17% of Canadians think unplugging the computer or turning off the mobile device could stop it, with a small amount even believing negotiating with the attacker is the best way to stop the attack.

So what can you do to help protect yourself from possible attacks? Kaspersky recommends everyone – individuals and companies – back up all files to an external drive or the cloud on a regular basis, and have a security solution running.

Another study found that consumers fail when it comes to password management best practices. Gigya commissioned OnePoll to survey 2,000 adults in the US and 2,000 adults in the UK.

The survey found that only 16% of respondents follow password best practices by creating a unique password for each online account. Six percent use the same password for all accounts, and 63% use seven or fewer passwords across all online accounts.

Interestingly only 33% of Millennials create secure passwords for everything compared to 42% of Generation Xers and 53% of baby boomers.

Among all respondents, 26% reported having had at least one account compromised in the past 12 months.

Also troubling to online sellers: The survey found that 68% abandon the creation of an online account due to complex password requirements, while 55% abandon a login page because they forgot their passwords or answered a security question incorrectly.

“When visitors avoid logging in, brands lose opportunities to personalize the experience and create deeper engagement,” Gigya said.

The Kaspersky Lab report on ransomware awareness can be found on the Kaspersky.com website (PDF file),

And you can download the Gigya report on password safe practices by registering on the Gigya website.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.