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U.S. Consumers Worry More About Internet Security than Those in Peer Nations

October 24 — The 2018 Unisys Security Index surveyed more than 13,000 consumers in 13 countries, including more than 1,000 in the U.S., in August and September of this year. The index gauged their attitudes on a wide range of security-related issues, calculating scores from 0 to 300 based on concern about eight specific topics within the categories of national, financial, internet and personal security.

The survey shows that consumer security concerns in the U.S. go far beyond the integrity of mid-term voting (although nearly one in five people are either not planning to vote or are very unlikely to vote in the midterms due to security concerns) — the score for U.S. consumers reached its second-highest level since the survey was launched 11 years ago with the index now at 163. While this is six points lower than than level reached in the 2017 study, it still represents a serious level of concern, the highest seen among the six “developed” (ones in which the gross domestic product per capita is measured at $12,000 or more) countries in the survey.

Younger people are more likely to voice security concerns as are those with younger incomes and women. In the U.S., the survey found 21 percent greater concern among 18-34-year-olds than respondents aged 45-65. Those with lower incomes reported 16 percent more concern than higher-income respondents. However, differing from trends in other countries, American women showed little difference with regard to the level of security concern reported  compared to men.

 

Specifically, consumers are most concerned about identity theft, with 61 percent reporting they are “very or extremely concerned.” Bankcard fraud is also worrisome — 59 percent of those surveyed said they are “very or extremely concerned” about this possibility. Online transactions (52 percent) and financial obligations (51 percent) are also of concern.

The vast majority of Americans reported being concerned that bank systems could be hacked, with a third being “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about the possibility, respectively. However, well over half of U.S. consumers would welcome facial recognition systems being used to verify identities for mobile-based banking. This statistic was highest among middle-income households, with 59 percent of this demographic supporting the idea.

“These results suggest that consumers view the internet as scarier than earthquakes, terrorism and wars, largely because they feel like they have little control over how to address bad actors leveraging internet-enabled technologies,” said Tom Patterson, chief trust officer of Unisys. “These concerns make it imperative for government agencies and companies that serve consumers to do everything possible to make the online experience safer and more secure, starting with implementing a zero-trust security model.”

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