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Top security worries for American people.

Unisys : 30 October, 2007  (Technical Article)
National security and identity theft remain the top two security issues for American people according to a survey by Unisys.
Unisys has unveiled the first US results from its ongoing, global survey of consumer opinion on security issues. Key findings include:.

* A majority of respondents (62 percent) are very concerned about national security threats.

* Women and blacks, more so than other respondents, want tougher anti-terrorism efforts from the US government.

* College graduates and city dwellers are less concerned about national security than people with less education and those who live outside cities.

* Four in 10 Americans are extremely concerned over their financial security.

* Seven in 10 Americans fear identity fraud; senior citizens are less worried about identity fraud than younger Americans.

These results, from a poll of 1,002 US consumers, are part of the Unisys Security Index, an ongoing global measure of consumer opinion on various issues related to national, personal, financial and Internet security.

Published three times a year, the Security Index surveys more than 13,000 people in 14 countries. The study measures consumer perceptions on a scale of zero to 300, with 300 representing the highest level of perceived anxiety.

In addition to the US, the Unisys Security Index includes consumer sentiment from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Holland, Hong Kong, Italy, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain and the United Kingdom.

"We live in an increasingly complex world, so it's encouraging that most Americans feel only moderate levels of concern about their safety," says Tim Kelleher, vice president of enterprise security at Unisys. "But the Unisys Security Index shows that specific risks are top of mind for many people and demonstrates the imperative for both the public and private sectors to re-evaluate how they address security issues."

The overall US reading stands at 151, just past the midway point and indicating a state of moderate concern. Index readings for national security (159), financial (154) and personal security (155) are above the midpoint and in line with overall sentiment; however, the Internet reading was just 135.

More than half of all respondents (62 percent) are extremely or very concerned with US national security, and only 10 percent of respondents were not at all concerned.

A majority of respondents (66 percent) believe the US government should do more to prevent another terrorist attack in this country; less than one-third (29 percent) feel that government is doing enough to protect its citizens from terrorism.

Breaking down the responses further reveals that 42 percent of women feel the federal government should 'dramatically' increase its efforts to prevent another terrorist attack on US soil, versus only 25 percent of men who feel the same way. By race, 52 percent of blacks feel that the government needs to do much more to stop terrorism, versus 32 percent of whites and 29 percent of Hispanics.

US college graduates and city dwellers are less worried about national security than those with less education and those who live outside metropolitan areas. While large cities are thought to be primary terrorism targets, only 60 percent of people who reside in urban areas are extremely concerned with national security compared to 71 percent of people who live outside major metropolitan areas.

"This research shows that anxiety about security varies greatly by gender, ethnicity and location,' Kelleher says.

'That makes it difficult for the public and private sectors to address the security concerns with common solutions for all their constituents. But the results clearly show that Americans want their government to increase its efforts to prevent terrorism."

Regarding specific national-security threats, 40 percent of all respondents see land-border security as needing the greatest enhancement, versus 29 percent who selected airports and 23 percent who chose seaports as the weakest links in national security.

In addition to national security and identity fraud, Americans also struggle with securing their current and future financial obligations, and current headlines about problems in the mortgage and credit markets may be exacerbating concerns.

Four in 10 Americans are extremely concerned about their financial security and their ability to meet essential financial obligations. In what appears to be a major gap among ethnicities, 61 percent of black respondents are concerned about financial obligations compared to 47 percent of Hispanics and 26 percent of whites.

"A significant percentage of Americans are feeling squeezed when it comes to making their monthly payments, and with the credit markets becoming further constrained, this finding is one to watch in our future Security Index polls," Kelleher says.

Interestingly, senior citizens, who would seem to have much more to lose given that many live on fixed incomes, are much less concerned over the risk of identity fraud compared to younger Americans. In fact, 26 percent of respondents 65 and older express no concern over the possible loss or misuse of their credit- and debit-card information.

Slightly more than 40 percent of Americans are extremely or very concerned about the security of online shopping or online banking transactions. Moreover, minorities are more worried about the security of online shopping (50 percent of blacks and 41 percent of Hispanics) than white respondents (36 percent).

In the wake of several widespread personal-data breaches that have affected millions of consumers over the past few years, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) are extremely or very concerned about other people obtaining and using their credit- or debit-card information for illicit purposes. Whites are least concerned (36 percent) about the possibility of unauthorized access, compared to 59 percent of black respondents and 43 percent of Hispanics.
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