Shopping online this holiday? Be careful, warns Sophos

November 28, 2006 Sophos Press Release

Experts at SophosLabs, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, are urging online shoppers to be safe this holiday season and are offering security tips that, if followed, will significantly reduce the risk of being a victim of an online attack.

A web poll of 280 computer users, conducted by Sophos, has revealed that 71% will shop online this holiday. According to APACS, the UK trade association for payments, an estimated £1.2 million ($ 2.3 million USD) is lost to card fraud everyday, with an incident of online fraud occurring every nine seconds.

Survey results

Are you doing any holiday shopping online this year?

Yes
71%
No
29%


A report by Sophos earlier this year showed that 75% of all phishing emails were directed to eBay or PayPal users. These are global brands (rather than local banks) and are used by millions of people around the world.

"Reasonable levels of paranoia when shopping online can save you from being targeted by cybercriminals," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "People should treat the internet as they would a power tool: it can take the pain out of a task, providing it is used responsibly. Safety precautions are there for a reason."

Security tips for online shoppers

  • Ensure that a firewall, anti-virus and all software patches are installed and up-to-date
  • Enter sensitive information only from a computer you know is secure
  • Visit and make purchases only from reputable sites
  • Never follow links from an unsolicited email or spam message
  • Ensure your passwords are known to you alone and are long enough to be unguessable

* Sophos web poll, 280 respondents, November 2006

Disclaimer: Please bear in mind that this poll is not scientific and is provided for information purposes only. Sophos makes no guarantees about the accuracy of the results other than that they reflect the choices of the users who participated.