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Israelis may spend a lot of time surfing the World Wide Web, but making purchases on-line or other financial transactions are another matter.
A just released survey conducted by Symantec Israel finds that almost half of the country's Internet surfers are hesitant about making purchases or conducting on-line bank transactions, while 70 percent of Internet users refuse to post any personal information on-line. Additionally, 71% of Israeli Internet users abstain from using it to pay bills as they are worried about the possibility of having credit card information stolen.
The poll, released on Tuesday by the Israeli unit of Symantec Corp., a global leader in security software, was based on answers from some 500 "surfers," aged 18 and above, and hailing from across Israel's demographic spectrum.
"Today, more and more Internet users are conducting many varieties of business on-line, including making purchases and using on-line banking services," said Erez Mor, the director of Symantec's domestic sales in the Mediterranean Region. But, he cautioned that surfers need to constantly have their fingers on the pulse of the information they are posting, and that they enter information only on secure sites.
Approximately 25% of the country's Internet users take advantage of the web to conduct banking and make purchases, while 16% use it to pay bills, the study found. Meanwhile, about 60% of Israelis' on-line purchases are for electronic items, while 46% of the purchases are for tourist services, including hotel and flight bookings.
Of those polled, 44% said they do not post sensitive information on the Web because they are afraid of its lack of security, with 33% percent of that group saying they are "very worried" about insufficient protection of on-line information.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor reported that in 2005 Israelis used the Internet for 15% of all "distance purchases," defined as one that is conducted away from the actual merchandise - either through catalogs, television advertisements or the Internet.
According to the Ministry's research department, 34% of Israeli households make a least one distance purchase a year, totalling NIS 1.2 billion.
Among the recommendations Symantec offers to consumers who are nervous about conducting business on-line are: to make sure the computer's anti-spyware and anti-virus programs are installed and constantly updated; make sure the company's Web site is secure and that the company protects its customers; avoiding "phishing" traps; never provide information in a pop-up-window; and make sure a wireless network is not "open" when making purchases or it may be possible for others to see credit card information when making purchases.