Nearly two out of three consumers (64%) in the UK say they are unhappy about providing any financial information online, and 47% are unhappy about buying a product online from a website or company they have never heard of before, according to a study by MySiteChecker.com in conjunction with Redshift Research. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

To make matters worse for online retailers, 45% of the 1,000 consumers surveyed said they are not confident that they would be able to quickly and easily determine if a website is safe enough to submit their personal information. There is apparently a great deal of confusion amongst consumers when it comes to website security, with 91% of respondents saying more should be done to inform web users about which online security measures they should look for.

Worryingly, despite the fact that a green address bar generally represents the highest level of website security, 71% of consumers were not sure actually what the green address bar actually meant, and 52% said they had never even noticed their address bar turning green when shopping online.

The padlock symbol on a website was the most popular security measure, with 80% of consumers looking out for it - despite this being one of the easiest security measures for fraudsters to fake, because many consumers are looking only to see if a padlock is displayed somewhere on the page, and being completely unaware that the only official 'secure connection' padlock symbol appears in the browser bar, not on the web page itself.

With the Christmas shopping season in full swing, 74% of consumers said they were planning to buy their gifts online, and 74% of those confirmed that they would be more likely to shop with websites that demonstrated the highest levels of security. However, 43% said they have abandoned an online shopping basket in the past because the website requires too much personal information, and 39% said they have abandoned shopping baskets because of security fears when it came to checking out.

"These findings illustrate that there is great uncertainty amongst shoppers about what is deemed to be safe. The padlock symbol on a website is the easiest security symbol to fake yet this is what the majority of people look for, and the green address bar is something that over half of respondents have never even noticed," said Raj Sukkersudha, managing director for MySiteChecker.com. "Website security is obviously of paramount importance to consumers, but they need better guidance on what they should be looking for."