Americans Report Sharp Rise in Internet Security Concerns

By John Wagley

Americans’ concern over Internet security has increased significantly in recent months, according to a biannual index produced by Unisys. Security concerns are also rising in several other major areas, according to the survey.

The U.S. Unisys Security Index score increased more than 20 percent in the past six months to an overall level researchers consider “serious,” according to Unisys, which is the first time the index has reached that designation since it began in 2007. The index, based on a zero to 300 scale, is now at 164 in the United States, up from 136 in the last survey. The index rose in the four major security categories measured, including national, financial, Internet, and personal safety.

Internet security concerns grew the most, however, by a significant margin, climbing 35.1 percent. Approximately half of respondents said they were seriously concerned about viruses, spam, and the safety of online shopping, according to Unisys. Seventy percent of respondents said they were seriously concerned about identity theft, and 68 percent said they were seriously concerned about credit or debit card fraud.

In a blog post, Unisys vice president Steve Vinsik wrote that he and other Unisys executives were not certain about the reasons for the climb in security concerns. He and other executives speculated that the increase in Internet concerns, however, may have stemmed from events including last year’s WikiLeaks scandal, in which secret government information was shared online. After the scandal, Americans also “watched sympathetic hackers use the Internet to attack financial organizations in support of the WikiLeaks effort,” he wrote.

Another cause could be Americans’ increasingly online nature, he wrote. “Have Americans’ constant connection to the Internet raised our overall awareness of all of the potential threats to our security? And just as interestingly, could it be that as a group, Americans have reached an inflection point where we realize just how much the Internet affects every dimension of security?”

The survey, conducted last February by the Lieberman Research Group, polled more than 1,000 Americans.


♦ Photo by fitbloggersguide/flickr


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