Each year, the media coverage of cyber attacks, data breaches, computer viruses and other cybersecurity dangers becomes more dire and frightening. The past year was no different, with several high profile data breaches in the headlines week after week.
We might rightfully assume that these headlines would instill panic – or at least anxiety – in the average consumer. But interestingly, this hasn’t happened. In fact, we are seeing concern decrease in recent years in the United States.
The Unisys Security Index regularly surveys thousands of consumers globally to measure their levels of concern in a number of areas related to their security. As we do each year, we asked about 10,000 U.S. consumers for their views on security, including how secure they feel online.
When asked specifically about their concern related to computer viruses and spam, the greatest proportion (37 percent) of U.S. consumers said they were not concerned at all. The second largest percentage (27 percent) said they were only somewhat concerned.
The pattern repeated when respondents were asked about their concern related to the safety of online transactions and banking, with 34 percent not concerned and 28 percent only somewhat concerned.
What can we make of this blasé attitude?
It’s possible that since the majority of people have not been personally harmed by these cybercrimes, they perceive there is nothing to worry about. Even a data breach involving the theft of credit card numbers belonging to millions of individuals results in little financial pain to consumers because the losses are absorbed by businesses and financial institutions (banks, credit card companies).
This is hardly good news. Because the average consumer is unlikely to experience loss from a cybercrime, they have little incentive to avoid risky online behavior. Meanwhile, business and banks will have to decide at what point it becomes more cost effective to improve their security than to bear the costs of loss.
This makes it all the more urgent for enterprises to proactively secure their infrastructure by isolating their most critical data and limiting access to those resources to predefined communities of authenticated users.
Visit the Unisys Security Index web site to view the complete findings from this year’s report.