KPMG: Shoppers Get Sloppy in Securing Online Info

While two-thirds (66 percent) of U.S. consumers will be shopping online this holiday season, the majority of those shoppers (63 percent) are either unsure about or not confident in the security of the personal and payment information that they use to complete a transaction, according to the 2014 KPMG Holiday Shopping Survey from KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm. In fact, the survey finds that consumers may be too passive by not taking the proper steps to ensure the security of their personal information.

According to the survey, 47 percent of online shoppers identified that they store some or all of their credit card information on retailer websites for quick and easy access to their accounts, and yet 40 percent of online shoppers stated that they have not changed their password in the past year.

“Passwords are an important line of protection in the fight against identity theft," said Tony Buffomante, partner and retail cyber security leader for KPMG. “However, cyber security is a joint venture between the retailer and the consumer.  Both parties need to fortify each end of the transaction and not assume that one end is more secure than the other. From the consumer side, that means installing challenging passwords, changing them regularly and monitoring their accounts.  For the retailers, they need to implement policies, procedures and controls to mitigate cyber security threats and constantly monitor for potential breaches of customer information."

Security breaches have an immediate and potentially lasting impact on the retailer's reputation, with more than a third of consumers (38 percent) stating that there is a negative impact on how they perceive a company once it has experienced a security breach.  Not only does a cyber-data breach impact a company's reputation, but it also affects the company's sales figures. According to the survey, 27 percent of consumers will only shop at a store that previously experienced a cyber-attack if they cannot find the product elsewhere; 8 percent refuse to shop at these stores all together.

Of the consumers that stated that they change their online passwords regularly, 41 percent said that their decision was influenced by recent news of an information security breach at a retail company. Twelve percent of consumers who regularly change their passwords do it because they once were victims of identity theft and know the importance of maintaining proper password protection.  Of those who do not change their online passwords regularly, 38 percent feel that their passwords are secure enough and 36 percent state that changing their passwords is too much of an inconvenience.

However, with 22 percent of consumers reporting that they will be shopping more online this holiday season than they were last year, online shopping has never been as popular.  When asked why they prefer to shop online than in-store, consumers identified convenience, product availability and cost as more important factors than security.

"The holiday shopping season continues to experience a bit of an evolution as more and more consumers turn to online shopping for the ease and convenience of not having to leave their house and fight with a hoard of other shoppers or get to a store and find out the product that they want may not be available," said Mark Larson, KPMG's U.S. and global retail leader. “Retailers are looking to adapt to this changing landscape and are therefore continuing to invest in days such as Cyber Monday and Green Monday as another way to increase their annual sales."

When shopping online, an overwhelming majority of consumers (83 percent) prefer to use their personal computers rather than mobile devices (30 percent) or tablets (20 percent).

Primary research for KPMG's 2014 Holiday Shopping Survey was conducted in November 2014. Approximately 1,400 U.S. consumers participated in an online-survey consisting of 31 questions, with topics ranging from general consumer shopping, to 2014 holiday shopping habits and cyber-security and personal data protection. Data was analyzed by professionals at KPMG.
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