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Concerns Over Security Increase As More People Hit The Online Shops

Research shows that as more people are transacting online, concerns about the security of online shopping are at the forefront of both shoppers and businesses’ minds.

Virtual stores are becoming the shopping location of choice for Kiwis according to research from Consumer Protection and CERT NZ1, with over half the nation shopping online more often in 2020 compared to 2019.

In response to the increasing demand from shoppers, 60% of small New Zealand businesses now have a digital presence and one in ten have an ecommerce website.

“More Kiwis are working and playing online and the COVID-19 pandemic created a significant shift in how we shop, work and do business online,” said Mark Hollingsworth, National Manager at Consumer Protection.

Levels of concern amongst shoppers are particularly high, with one in four (23%) 2 believing their personal or payment information will be compromised during the next 12 months.

A third (31%) 3 of small businesses expect they will be affected by a cyber attack within the next year.

“Shoppers and businesses are right not to be complacent about protecting themselves while buying or selling online,” says CERT NZ Director, Rob Pope.

Figures from CERT NZ show in 2020 over $2.4 million was lost to scams when buying, selling or donating goods online.

“A scam or data breach can have serious effects for everyone involved,” says Mr Pope. “For a customer, stolen personal or bank card details could be used to conduct further online crimes, such as fraud. For businesses, there could be huge impacts including disruption to operations, a loss of revenue, or a weakening of customer trust.”

“So much can be done at the touch of a button nowadays and it’s encouraging that Kiwis are exercising an air of caution while online. The good news is a few simple precautions put in place by both consumers and businesses can make the world of difference,” said Mark Hollingsworth at Consumer Protection.

Tips for shopping safely online include:

· Keep software and anti-virus protection up to date.

· Use long unique passwords for each of your online accounts.

· Always pause before you pay to check if a website is genuine, secure and provides trusted payment systems.

· Check your bank statements for unusual activity.

· Check the terms and conditions before you buy online, including returns, delivery and warranties.

“Many businesses moved quickly online as COVID-19 swept across the globe, and cyber security was perhaps not always at the forefront of their mind. Now is the time to strengthen the security on your ecommerce website to protect both yourself and your customers,” says Rob Pope at CERT NZ.

Businesses can do this by:

· Regularly installing updates on software and devices.

· Implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) for another layer of security to protect both internal and customer-facing systems.

· Only collecting data that you need and being clear about why you need it.

· Backing up business and customer data so if it’s lost or stolen you can recover it quickly.

· Setting up logs to keep on top of unusual or unexpected activity on your website.

· Having an incident response plan to help you take control of the situation if the worst were to happen and will help reduce the impact on your business.

For more information about shopping safely and understanding your rights when buying online visit Consumer Protection’s website: https://www.consumerprotection.govt.nz/general-help/ways-to-buy-and-pay/online-shopping/

For further advice on how to keep your online business secure see CERT NZ’s website: https://www.cert.govt.nz/business/guides/top-11-cyber-security-tips-for-your-business/

The research from Consumer Protection and CERT NZ is available here: https://www.mbie.govt.nz/business-and-employment/consumer-protection/consumer-research-and-reports/consumer-guarantees-act-research/

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