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Cyber security tops UK public's concerns

Warwick Ashford

Cyber security is the UK public's chief concern, with 85% of the population worried about bank card fraud and identity theft, a biannual global study has revealed.

These fears are reflected in the UK's National Security Strategy, which listed attacks in cyber space as a top threat facing the UK.

Nearly one in 10 people in the UK admits switching banks or retailers because of concerns about privacy and identity protection, according the latest Unisys Security Index.

Of UK respondents, 75% said they will not shop or bank with organisations they cannot trust to safeguard their personal information.

Bank card fraud is the top concern of UK consumers, with 56% seriously concerned, closely followed by the fear of falling victim to identity theft (55%).

But, at the same time, the study shows that consumers are not taking appropriate steps to ensure their transactions are secure.

While a majority of consumers limit access to their personal information on social media sites (67%) and shred financial and medical records (62%), they are not taking other basic steps to protect their identities.

Nearly two-thirds fail to regularly use or update passwords for mobile devices and 54% admit that they do not regularly adopt or update 'hard to guess' passwords.

Over a third admit to rarely thinking about privacy and protection when shopping or banking online and 16% confess to putting convenience before privacy concerns when transacting online.

"With the government announcing that we're all at risk of 'a sustained cyber attack', this report is an effective barometer at measuring how these threats are impacting the public's sense of insecurity," said Neil Fisher, vice-president of global security solutions, at IT services firm Unisys.

"While the internet age has transformed society for the better, it's also introduced a whole new set of risks," he said.

Fisher said while it was encouraging that people are becoming more aware of these risks, most need to improve their inconsistent approach to online security.

"If we really want to protect ourselves, we have to take responsibility for our own actions," he said.


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