(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – Half of US consumers (54 percent) worry about the risk of their details being compromised each time they input them into a business website, according to research released today by 1&1 Internet, Inc., www.1and1.com, a global leader among Web hosts. From a study of more than 400 US adults, 29 percent have walked away from using or buying from a website due to fears of the level of security. The degree of consumer understanding of online dangers is high – 70 percent of Americans recognize that threats such as malware and viruses change by the hour. Smaller businesses with a website that uses hand-coding or open-source applications will benefit from being able to reassure online consumers that their website is well protected.
Today, more transactions than ever are being conducted over the Internet, requiring consumers to input sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and identifiable data. 1&1’s “Website Attitudes Study”  of 403 US consumers finds that consumers’ concern and expectations for website security are also increasing. In fact, 1 in 3 (33 percent) of those surveyed have either had their own, or know someone who has, had details lost or taken as a result of using a business website.
Thus, it is perhaps unsurprising that there is an impressive level of consumer awareness nowadays for protecting their data while online. Some 80 percent of Americans understand that many websites that capture data (such as contact details or billing data) can be a target for cyber criminals, and 70 percent recognize that threats can change by the hour.
Significantly, almost half of consumers (47 percent) believe small businesses are more of a target for malicious online activity when compared to larger stores. The concern, while perhaps off the radar of many small companies, is clearly inhibiting many consumers from fully supporting American small businesses. In fact, only 14 percent believe SMBs are fully protected online. Such an understanding clearly impacts consumer behaviour, with 29 percent having abandoned an online transaction or enquiry because they were worried about the security of their data. Additionally, 70 percent admit they are likely to spend more with a business that shows that it takes steps to enhance website security.
The study also took a measure on what actions consumers would take should their personal data ever be compromised from a business website. Unsurprisingly, most expect to feel distressed and highly negative about a company as a result. More than two thirds (76 percent) of consumers anticipate sharing their experience with others, with 39 percent foreseeing social media posts, 30 percent willing to report it to the press, and 31 percent being likely to explore legal action against the business involved. There is clearly much potential for costly and long lasting damage to a business’s hard-earned revenue and brand reputation.
As the majority of business websites now capture users’ data, every business on the Internet needs protection. The use of open-source applications and hand-coding can allow much customization for designs; however, security can be an issue. While websites built with vendor-managed templates, such as 1&1 MyWebsite, involve very little risk of being compromised by malicious activity, as they leverage a professional system to create, update and protect the design, hand-coded websites carry more risk. Mistakes as simple as forgetting to close parentheses when entering code, or not applying updates to open-source applications can help facilitate malicious activity from hackers. Thanks to a new service provided by 1&1 together with SiteLock, better protection is now easily available for such hand-coded websites.
With the new feature from SiteLock (www.sitelock.com), 1&1 customers can scan their website for design vulnerabilities and stay informed about their online security levels. Through the end of the 2012, 1&1 will provide this security service free for one domain for the life of any new Web hosting or eShop contract. 1&1 SiteLock also comes with a shield icon that is displayed on the business’s website, showing hackers and customers alike that this site is protected.
As a global leader among Web hosts, 1&1 is well placed to deliver a high quality service to its customers. The company currently holds over 11 million customer contracts worldwide and manages 11 million domain names. For more information about 1&1 as well as the new Sitelock feature visit www.1and1.com.