New McAfee Survey Reveals More Than Half of Online Holiday Shoppers Would Risk Purchasing from a Potentially Fake Website for Savings

New Yorkers are the Most Vulnerable to Cybercriminals During the Holiday Season


  • Survey finds that 53 percent of online shoppers believe the stress of the holiday season can cause them to behave carelessly online
  • 22 percent engage in risky behavior, such as using public Wi-Fi to complete online purchases
  • 80 percent of New Yorkers surveyed reported they are more careless when shopping online during the holiday season due to increased financial stress

Holiday Financial Stress and its Impact on Cybersecurity (Graphic: Business Wire)

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--()--Today McAfee, the device-to-cloud cybersecurity company, announced findings from its latest survey, Holiday Stresses, revealing the risky habits of online shoppers, including using unsecured Wi-Fi for online shopping and purchasing items from online retailers they are not fully confident are genuine (51 percent). The majority of respondents (79 percent) agree that the holiday shopping season induces increased financial stress, while 53 percent admit that this pressure can cause them to be careless while shopping online. This highlights the need for consumers to slow down and consider the risks of unsafe purchasing behavior that could lead to identity theft or financial loss.

Last year consumers spent $453.46 billion on the web for retail purchases, which was a 16 percent increase over 2016. Unfortunately, when it comes to online shopping, consumers are more concerned about finding the lowest price than potentially jeopardizing their personal cybersecurity in the process. The survey found that 56 percent of consumers are willing to use a website they are unfamiliar with, if this means they can save money on their purchases. Even worse, 31 percent admit to clicking links in suspicious emails for better deals.

“For most people, the holiday shopping season is a stressful time of year, especially from a financial perspective. With added stresses and distractions, people often let their guard down when it comes to their digital security, which can lead to risky consequences,” said Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at McAfee. “Cybercriminals know that people are less focused on security measures during this time and use that to their advantage. By taking the proper steps to protect themselves and being wary of deals and offers that appear to be too good to be true, consumers can enjoy a safe holiday season.”

The United States of Online Shopping

The McAfee survey also examined cross country behaviors, identifying the states that exhibit the safest online behavior. Residents in Washington are most likely to stay cyber-safe during the holidays, with nearly 80 percent of respondents claiming they are very unlikely to click on a link in an unfamiliar email. Conversely, New York residents are the most likely to fall victim to a cybercriminal, with 80 percent claiming that they are more careless when shopping online due to the financial stress of the season. Shoppers in Delaware reported that they do not monitor their bank and credit card statements during the holidays, while 70 percent of survey participants in Illinois noted that they are willing to risk their email addresses, phone numbers, home addresses and bank account details for an online deal.

The states where residents are most likely to fall victim to a cybercriminal are:

1. New York

2. Illinois

3. New Mexico

4. Kansas

5. California

The states where residents are least likely to fall victim to a cybercriminal are:

1. Washington

2. South Dakota

3. Minnesota

4. Nevada

5. Hawaii

Tips for Consumers to Stay Safe While Shopping Online:

  • Connect with caution. Using public Wi-Fi might seem like a good idea in the moment, but if consumers are not careful, they could be unknowingly exposing their personal information or credit card details to cybercriminals who are snooping on the network. If public Wi-Fi must be used to conduct transactions, use a virtual private network (VPN) to help ensure a secure connection.
  • Think before you click. One of the easiest ways for a cybercriminal to target victims is by using phishing emails disguised as holiday savings or shipping notification, to lure consumers into clicking links that could lead to malware, or a phony website designed to steal personal information. Instead of clicking on a link in an email, it is always best to check directly with the source to verify an offer or shipment.
  • Browse with security protection. Use comprehensive security protection, like McAfee Total Protection, which can help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks and other threats. It includes McAfee WebAdvisor which can help identify malicious websites.
  • Use a tool to help protect your personal information. A solution like McAfee Identity Theft Protection, takes a proactive approach to help protect identities with personal and financial monitoring and recovery tools to help keep identities personal and secure.

Survey Methodology:

McAfee commissioned MSI-ACI to conduct a survey of 2,472 adults in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 55 in October 2018.

About McAfee

McAfee is the device-to-cloud cybersecurity company. Inspired by the power of working together, McAfee creates business and consumer solutions that make our world a safer place.

McAfee technologies’ features and benefits depend on system configuration and may require enabled hardware, software, or service activation. No computer system can be absolutely secure. McAfee® and the McAfee logo are trademarks of McAfee, LLC or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Other marks and brands may be claimed as the property of others.


Craig Sirois
Hotwire Global
Maya Nimnicht


Craig Sirois
Hotwire Global
Maya Nimnicht