66% believe online shopping is getting safer

Cape Town – Research by Travelstart has revealed that 66% of South African Internet users believe online shopping has become safer in the last year.

The travel site conducted a survey among 7 511 people aged between 18 and over 60 years old in October/November 2014 and found that the majority of South Africans are starting to feel more comfortable with online purchases, with 37% buying goods and services online at least once a month, 36% once every 3 months, 22% once a year, and 5% saying they never purchase goods and services online.

While most people seem comfortable with travel, electronics, daily deals and fashion purchases online, 30% said that banking and 20% that online classifieds made them feel uncomfortable when transacting online.

As cybercrime becomes more prevalent, savvy shoppers are doing more to safeguard themselves against the threat of fraud, with 53% saying they are above average at protecting themselves from threats posed by hackers.

When asked to rate their awareness of 14 well-known scam tactics used by cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive information, survey participants said they were most vigilant of email phishing scams, Internet lottery scams, credit card skimming and false payment confirmation scams in that order. On the other hand, 419 scams, shortened URL scams, and major event scams are lesser known.

This echoes an article about hacking which appeared on the Times Live website in October 2014. In the article cyber forensic expert Danny Myburgh said, “The FBI has ranked South Africa the sixth-most active country for cybercrime.”

The article went on to state that the biggest cybercrime threats to South Africa included spoof websites or phishing, illegal access to data, hacking cellphones and the footprints left by social media users.

Rodney Davids, Risk Analyst at Travelstart South Africa, commented: “At Travelstart we use a multi-layered approach to combat online fraud. Our fraud prevention tools are designed to complement each other. Some of these tools are internally-developed risk assessment rules, which flag transactions made from high risk countries, credit cards, routes and billing addresses. These risk parameters are linked to a fraud risk score which ultimately indicates whether a transaction is safe to process.”

“Added to our Internal Risk assessment rules is 3-D Secure. 3-D Secure helps identify and confirm that the person entering the card details is the legitimate owner of the card thus preventing the unauthorised use of a credit card.”

3-D Secure is a Visa and MasterCard international secure online transacting mechanism. During the payment process you may be re-directed to your banks 3-D secure page.

“Credit card holders should contact their card issuer to enroll a credit card in the 3-D Secure fraud prevention step.”

Worryingly, 36% of those surveyed say they have carried out credit card sensitive transactions using public Wi-Fi networks such as those available at coffee shops, airports and shopping centres.

The survey also revealed the trust factors and security features local shoppers consider most important when purchasing online. The top 9 in order of most important to least important are:

1. The website is a well-known brand
2. The website has clearly visible contact details
3. The website uses encryption for transactions
4. The website is secured by an Internet security authority such as Thawte
5. The website has an easily findable office location
6. The website offers multiple payment channels
7. Industry body trust symbols are displayed on the websites home page
8. The website has 3D Secure enabled
9. The website has a social media presence with recent activity


Travelstart tips for safe Internet shopping                                                  
Protect your identity: Do not let a friend or a colleague use your credit card to make online purchases, and don’t use a computer belonging to someone else for online shopping. When it comes to sensitive transactions, avoid Internet cafes and public computers.

  • Update your computer anti-virus: Protect against malware by regularly updating your anti-virus software. Better yet, select the update automatically so you won’t have to remember to do it.
  • Make passwords long and strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a secure password. Change your passwords frequently, and don’t use the same password for multiple online accounts.
  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals gain access to your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete it or if appropriate, mark it as junk. If an email makes you suspicious, mouse-over the link instead of clicking it. Your browser will show you the URL the link is pointing to.
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