Verdict Research has published a report which suggests that the credit crunch is benefiting web-based businesses as consumers in the UK flock to the Internet in search of money saving bargains. With £15bn ($30bn) spent online by UK consumers in the last 12 months, according to the research, this equates to a rise of 33 percent over the previous year and interestingly also represents an increase some ten times faster that the same period for the overall retail sector. Online retail in the UK, says Verdict, will grow to £45bn ($90bn) within just four years or around 14 percent of the total amount of money being spent by UK consumers. But in the rush to beat the credit crunch, are consumers overlooking the fact that there are those who would seek to turn their profit seeking into misery?

Symantec, has also produced research under the banner of the Norton Online Living Report which suggests that while the UK has 96 percent of adults saying that they shop online at least sometimes, ten percent of UK online adults have also had someone use their credit card online without approval. That's the highest level of online credit card crime in the world.

Symantec's latest global Internet Security Threat Report revealed that an underground online economy exists in which criminal data is sold supermarket style, piled high and sold cheap. Indeed, it's possible to buy a bundle of 50 active stolen credit card numbers for just £20 ($40) and if you buy in bulk then 500 reduces the price to just £100 ($200) which is truly shocking.

So yes, the Internet is a great place to shop and as plenty of people are discovering it's also a great place to save money when belts need to be tightened, but with the influx of people new to ecommerce and therefore naïve when it comes to matters of transactional security, it could yet well prove to be a false economy for many of them…

About the Author

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

the problem isn't that people are buying online to get a bargain (though that's often a delusion, and in the end puts more people out of work locally which is bad for the economy and thus your wallet) but WHAT they buy.
Many of them buy pirated music, movies, and software or other stolen goods from shady websites rather than sticking to reputable stores doing legitimate business.
In Europe that happens a lot more apparently than it does in the US, which goes a long way to explain why more creditcard information ends up getting stolen here.
Another reason might be cosmetic, with possibly more people here going to the police rather than just getting their credit company to block the card and issue a new one.