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Americans rank retailers and government lowest for securely handling personal data

Against a backdrop of escalating cybersecurity attacks against public and private sector organizations in the U.S., a large percentage of Americans believe that a breach of their personal data held by a retailer or a government agency is likely within the next year, according to the 2015 Unisys Security Insights survey released today by Unisys Corporation in partnership with Lieberman Research Group.


June 30, 2015
By Canadian Security

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The Unisys Security Insights survey asked consumers in 12 countries about the likelihood that their personal data held by seven types of organizations (airlines, banking/finance, government, healthcare, retail, telecom, and utilities) would be accessed by an unauthorized person within the next year.
 
When asked about the likelihood that their personal data held by a retailer would be accessed by an unauthorized person within the next year, 44 percent of U.S. respondents said they believed a breach was likely – with only 19 percent saying it was unlikely.
 
Asked the same question about personal data held by government agencies, 39 percent said a breach was likely, and 29 percent said it was unlikely. For telecommunications companies, 35 percent said a breach was likely, with 25 percent stating it was unlikely.
 
Unisys security experts said that several recent, highly-publicized cyberattacks have increased concern among consumers about the safety of their personal data held by various organizations – especially those in the retail sector where breaches have hit consumers most directly. The survey results may also reflect concerns about the country’s general readiness to combat cyber threats, Unisys experts said.
 
“Organizations that hold consumers’ personal data have a major challenge maintaining public confidence that they safely protect private information,” said Dave Frymier, vice president and chief information security officer, Unisys. “While hackers will always find their way into an organization’s network, enterprises can protect high-value data through basic precautions like patching and sharing threat intelligence as well as using advanced security technologies like micro-segmentation.”
 
On a more positive note, U.S. respondents conveyed higher confidence in the ability of banks and healthcare organizations to protect personal data. Only 24 percent of respondents said a breach of their personal data held by a bank was likely in the next year, with 44 percent saying such a breach was unlikely. For healthcare organizations, only 28 percent said a breach was likely, and 41 percent thought it unlikely.
 
U.S. respondents had the lowest overall level of concern about likely security breaches among the 12 countries surveyed. For example, nearly twice the percentage of respondents in the Netherlands and Germany thought a breach of their personal data was likely than their counterparts in the U.S. (See results from U.S. respondents in the table below.)
            
Methodology
The U.S. Security Insights survey is based on an online survey of 1,016 persons aged 18 and over, April 17-19, 2015. The data from this study are weighted according to the most recent estimates published by the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure projectability of the data to U.S. adults.


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