Risk
11/24/2010
11:48 AM
50%
50%

Consumers Ignore Safe Online Shopping Guidance

Webroot survey finds that 52% of people don't check for an HTTPS connection before making purchases and 23% feel safe when using free, public wireless connections for e-commerce.

How Firesheep Can Hijack Web Sessions
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: How Firesheep Can Hijack Web Sessions

Know how to shop safe this holiday season. That's the warning from a new study of online shopping habits, which found that 52% of people don't check for an HTTPS connection before making e-commerce purchases, and 50% don't look for the browser padlock icon which indicates that data is being exchanged in encrypted format with websites.

Those findings come from a new survey of more than 2,600 people in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, conducted by ResearchNow for security firm Webroot.

"Through our survey, we learned that one in seven respondents has already become a victim of credit, debit, or PayPal account fraud this year," said Jeff Horne, threat research director at Webroot, in a statement. "In addition, 57% received phishing emails from bogus sources claiming to be a legitimate company -- something we see rise around Black Friday and Cyber Monday," aka the Monday after Thanksgiving.

The Webroot survey study also found regular use of free Wi-Fi for e-commerce purposes. For example, 23% of respondents said they feel safe when using a public wireless connection, and 18% of respondents said they'd likely shop for gifts when logged into free, public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Yet, attackers can sniff sensitive data sent via Wi-Fi hotspots, since many websites -- as well as hotspots -- don't use SSL to fully encrypt all sessions. The risk was highlighted earlier this month by the release of Firesheep, a Firefox extension which automatically sniffs communications between people using the same hotspot and such websites as Amazon.com, unless defensive measures are taken.

On the upside, however, the study found that 52% of consumers only buy from websites which offer some type of trust certification, issued by such outfits as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and VeriSign. Furthermore, 72% of people use complex passwords that mix letters, numbers, and symbols, and 62% don't save passwords in their browser. But only 37% of people use unique passwords for each password-protected website at which they shop.

When shopping, Webroot recommends never conducting a financial transaction on a website unless it displays "HTTPS" in the address bar. In addition, it said that "on sites where the retailer uses extended SSL validation, look for the address bar to turn green on secured pages."

While researchers have shown that SSL can be bypassed by a determined attacker using a man-in-the-middle attack, and that padlock icons can be faked, security experts say they're still a better-than-nothing indicator of a secure browsing session.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading December Tech Digest
Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of end-user security training.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-5395
Published: 2014-11-21
Multiple cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in Huawei HiLink E3276 and E3236 TCPU before V200R002B470D13SP00C00 and WebUI before V100R007B100D03SP01C03, E5180s-22 before 21.270.21.00.00, and E586Bs-2 before 21.322.10.00.889 allow remote attackers to hijack the authentication of users ...

CVE-2014-7137
Published: 2014-11-21
Multiple SQL injection vulnerabilities in Dolibarr ERP/CRM before 3.6.1 allow remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the (1) contactid parameter in an addcontact action, (2) ligne parameter in a swapstatut action, or (3) project_ref parameter to projet/tasks/contact.php; (4...

CVE-2014-7871
Published: 2014-11-21
SQL injection vulnerability in Open-Xchange (OX) AppSuite before 7.4.2-rev36 and 7.6.x before 7.6.0-rev23 allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via a crafted jslob API call.

CVE-2014-8090
Published: 2014-11-21
The REXML parser in Ruby 1.9.x before 1.9.3 patchlevel 551, 2.0.x before 2.0.0 patchlevel 598, and 2.1.x before 2.1.5 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (CPU and memory consumption) a crafted XML document containing an empty string in an entity that is used in a large number of nes...

CVE-2014-8469
Published: 2014-11-21
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in Guests/Boots in AdminCP in Moxi9 PHPFox before 4 Beta allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the User-Agent header.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Now that the holiday season is about to begin both online and in stores, will this be yet another season of nonstop gifting to cybercriminals?