The recently published 2015 Unisys Security Insights Survey looks at consumer perception of which industries best protect their personal information. The survey, which covered 12 countries and surveyed 11,244 consumers, asked, “For each industry, how likely do you think it is that your personal information will be accessed by an unauthorized person either accidently or deliberately within the next 12 months?”
The survey found that levels of concern about cybersecurity were high in certain U.S. industry sectors, particularly retail, government and telecom. Depending upon the type of organization, the expectation that a security breach was likely within the next 12 months ranged from 21 percent for utilities to nearly half (44 percent) for retailers.
In a recent article for Computerworld, “Which industries best safeguard your personal information? Security perceptions vs. reality,” I looked at the consumer perception in the Unisys Security Insights Survey versus the market reality in the Verizon 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) to explore how consumer perceptions of personal information security compared to what was actually happening in the market based on the number of data breaches by industry.
There were seven industries in common across the two reports, so the analysis covered this specific set of industries. The results were intriguing, with a number of similarities (government, banking, healthcare and airlines), differences (telecom and utilities) as well as a wild card (retail). Retail was a bit of a wild card because it rated first in terms of most likely to suffer unauthorized access in the next 12 months according to U.S. consumers, fifth among global consumers, and third in terms of the actual number of data breaches.
Another question asked by the Unisys survey was, “Do you feel that the use of biometrics such as fingerprint readers on smartphones strengthens the security of your information?” Interestingly, perceptions concerning the effectiveness of biometrics were mixed in the U.S. About one-third viewed biometrics as effective, while a similar proportion was unsure.
My personal interpretation of these findings are that the industry can do more to educate consumers about biometrics and their effectiveness as an authentication mechanism compared to other techniques such as one-factor and two-factor authentication. As biometrics get seamlessly integrated into mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay, it’s important to educate the consumer about what’s happening behind the scenes. In addition, it’s important to educate consumers about the full scope of what goes into protecting their personal information, with biometric authentication being just a small part of the overall solution.
One upside of the recent wave of data breaches in retail and government in the U.S. is that consumers, even hyper-connected Gen Z’s, are getting more and more attuned to the importance of the security and privacy of their personal information. Employing the latest technology enablers such as biometrics and educating consumers about how their data is protected can go a long way to raising their confidence level about your particular industry and your specific brand.