Don’t drink and click this Christmas shopping season, says Proofpoint

  • More than a third of Australians say they ‘drink and click’, consuming alcohol while they shop online.
  • 55% of online shoppers in Australia are more likely to click on promotional links or special deals while consuming alcohol.
  • Concern about credit card theft rates only as high as concerns about delivery times and the quality of the items purchased.

Ahead of the busiest shopping period of the year, a third (34%) of Australians have admitted they ‘drink and click’, drinking alcohol while shopping online. It’s a hidden risk this festive season, according to new research from cyber security company Proofpoint, who surveyed more than 2,000 Australians on the topic.

Of the survey respondents who have consumed alcohol while shopping online, 55% recognised they are more likely to click on promotional links or special deals while drinking, potentially opening the door to would-be scammers. Younger consumers were more likely to admit this connection, with 77% of those under 24 making the same admission.

The survey also revealed 63% of the consumers under 24 said they find themselves spending more money online when consuming alcohol compared to buying sober.

“We’re not saying adults shouldn’t enjoy a drink this season, we’re simply saying click responsibly,” says Proofpoint ANZ area vice-president Crispin Kerr. “Cyber-criminals are active all year round and are always looking for opportunities to steal our credentials or financial information. Christmas is no exception”.

According to the ACCC, between January and October this year, Australians lost more than $6.8 million due to online shopping scams, a figure 68% higher than the amount lost last year over the same period.

Regardless of this increase in cyber-criminal activity, 67% of all respondents said they’ll do either all, most or some of their Christmas shopping online this year. In fact, 52% admitted to shopping online more since the start of the pandemic, while 40% of respondents agreed the convenience of buying online outweighs the cybersecurity risks.

The Proofpoint survey on consumer attitudes towards online shopping also showed 71% of respondents who drink alcohol while online shopping also click on links in emails they receive from known retailers or brands. At the same time, a worrisome 27% of them said they don’t check the domain of the emails they receive that contain these promotions, which is an easy way to check its authenticity.

What consumers worry about

Interestingly, despite the risks surrounding online shopping this Christmas, security concerns were only on par in people’s minds with far less serious dangers.

The survey revealed that 72% of the respondents who shop online held concerns about their bank or credit card details being stolen. However, Australians were almost equally concerned the products they receive will be different to how they appeared online (71%) and that the items they order online won’t arrive on time (70%).

Crispin Kerr continued: “There are easy ways to rectify a late delivery or poor-quality items. It is much more stressful - and in some cases expensive - to rectify identity theft and credit card fraud, so in our opinion, concern for this should front of mind with online shoppers.

“Cyber-criminals often leverage known brands to trick consumers into clicking on fake promotional links or to download malicious attachments with the aim of stealing their credentials or financial information.

“Even more so at this time of year, our advice to people is to be vigilant, look out for things like poor grammar and spelling, wrong domains and treat all unsolicited emails with caution. A good way to prevent yourself falling victim to shopping scams this Christmas is to leave the drinks until after the online shopping is done.”

Proofpoint recommends consumers follow the below top tips to remain safe online while shopping for seasonal bargains: 

  1. Use strong passwords:  Do not reuse the same password twice. Consider using a password manager to make your online experience seamless, whilst staying safe.
  2. Avoid Unprotected WiFi: Free/open-access WiFi is not secure: cybercriminals can intercept data transferred over unprotected WiFi, including credit card numbers, passwords, account information, and more.
  3. Watch out for “lookalike” sites: Attackers create “lookalike” sites imitating familiar brands. These fraudulent sites may sell counterfeit (or non-existent) goods, be infected with malware, or steal money or credentials.
  4. Dodge Potential Phishing and Smishing Attacks: Phishing emails lead to unsafe websites that gather personal data, like credentials and credit card data. Watch out for SMS phishing too —aka ‘smishing’ — or messages through social media.
  5. Don’t click on links: Go directly to the source of the advertised deal by typing a known website address directly into your browser. For special offer codes, enter them at the checkout to see if they are legitimate.
  6. Verify Before You Buy: Fraudulent ads, websites, and mobile apps can be hard to spot. When downloading a new app or visiting an unfamiliar site, take time to read online reviews and any customer complaints.

About Proofpoint, Inc.

Proofpoint, Inc. (NASDAQ: PFPT) is a leading cybersecurity and compliance company that protects organizations’ greatest assets and biggest risks: their people. With an integrated suite of cloud-based solutions, Proofpoint helps companies around the world stop targeted threats, safeguard their data, and make their users more resilient against cyber-attacks. Leading organizations of all sizes, including more than half of the Fortune 1000, rely on Proofpoint for people-centric security and compliance solutions that mitigate their most critical risks across email, the cloud, social media, and the web. More information is available at

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