Security fears put many Irish users off buying online

14 Jul 2006

Many Irish internet users are aware of identity theft and concern about the problem is impacting on the number of people willing to transact online, a new survey has found. As a result, Irish internet businesses are losing out on an estimated €250m per year in revenue, claimed CA.

Awareness of identity theft — the abuse of an individual’s online personal information by another individual and/or company — is quite high among the 40pc of the population who have internet access at home or in work. Of that number, 76pc said they know what identity theft is.

Having credit card details exposed is the highest concern for those using the internet, cited by 81pc of respondents. Perhaps understandably, this figure is higher (86pc) for those who buy online. Loss of personal information such as an address or phone number appears to be far less pressing, with 37pc of people saying they are worried about this.

Close to 2pc of the population — around 15,000 people — claim to have had their identity stolen; 10pc said it has happened to someone they know.

The survey was conducted in May by the independent research firm Behaviour & Attitudes on behalf of the IT management software provider CA. The information came from face-to-face interviews with a national sample of 1,200 adults aged 15 and over.

The research found that of the 1.4 million Irish adults who use the internet, around 350,000 do not transact online. When asked, a quarter said they were “very concerned” about identity theft online and 30pc described themselves as “fairly concerned”.

Among those who don’t buy or sell online, 53pc said they don’t feel the need and more than a third (37pc) specifically said that they did not trust the transactions.

Even those who do buy or sell over the internet said that had “at least occasionally” withdrawn from a transaction because of concerns over the company or the website. The average proportion of transactions affected was 30pc, the survey found.

It is further estimated that this concern is causing up to 10pc of all internet transactions to be aborted.

Sean O’Connell, IT security consultant at CA Ireland, said: “We estimate that over €1bn is spent by Irish adults on internet transactions per annum. We know from this survey that 1.15 million Irish people transact on the internet, which means that the average spend per person is around €1,000 each year on the internet. Given this and the fact that we know that 10pc of all internet transactions are aborted due to these concerns, we can conclude that around €250m revenue is lost to internet business each year because of Irish consumer fears about the security of their personal information online.”

By Gordon Smith