Online users becoming less anxious over security, privacy

While surveys about security usually end up telling us about how bad people feel, a global survey released Tuesday indicates there's substantially less anxiety about Internet security, personal safety and national security than there was six months ago.

Concerns over security in everything from online shopping and banking to safety from computer viruses, as well as national security along with personal and financial security, were significantly down over what was recorded half a year ago for populations in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Brazil, Netherlands, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. More than 8,000 people were surveyed. 

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The change over six months ago represents about a 15% improvement in the levels of anxiety that people feel, according to the scoring system used in the "Unisys Security Index: Global Summary," which covers the March to September timeframe.    The reason for less anxiety all around is probably that there's the sense the global economic crisis might be easing, making people less tense, a Unisys spokesman says.

However, when it comes to Internet and personal security, people in the countries where the bi-annual survey was done showed the most worry over bank cards and identity theft, and the highest level of concern about that was evident in Brazil, the United States and Germany. In contrast, those in the Netherlands and Belgium were not particularly concerned at all.

On the question of whether individuals had confidence in the ability of financial services providers or local governments to protect personal information, respondents in Spain were the most concerned, while those in Belgium and the Netherlands were largely unconcerned.

A separate set of questions asked individuals whether they were ready to accept biometric forms of authentication in lieu of passwords to protect online information. According to the survey, a slight majority globally are willing, with Australia the highest at 66%, while the lowest levels of biometrics acceptance were in Germany at 50% and the United States at 58%. The survey said that was a bit of a "paradox" since adults in those countries are among the most concerned globally about online shopping and identity theft.

This story, "Online users becoming less anxious over security, privacy" was originally published by Network World.

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