Identity theft tops Brits' security concerns

The 2018 Unisys Security Index has revealed that identity theft as the top worry for UK citizens, with 56 per cent of respondents saying they were very or extremely concerned.

It also found high levels of concern relating to sharing personal data with third parties and via social media, along with a strong desire to share some medical data with doctors, and personal location data with the police in emergency situations.

Over 1,000 UK adults were surveyed during August and September, with the index calculating a score out of 300 - the highest level of concern - covering changing consumer attitudes over time across eight areas of security in four categories.

The overall index score was measured at 149 this year, which represents a five-point increase compared with 2017, and was the third highest increase globally.

The highest levels of security concern were among women (13 points higher than men), younger people aged 18-24 (37 points higher than 55-65 year olds), and those with lower incomes (27 points higher than those with higher incomes).

Outside of the core index survey Unisys asked respondents about potential exploitations of social media and found that 65 per cent in the UK were concerned about terrorists using social media to collaborate and plan attacks. In addition, 63 per cent said they were concerned about their social media profiles being hacked and sensitive information shared, with 72 per cent of 18-24 year olds stating overwhelming concern.

When asked their opinions around health insurance providers tracking individual’s fitness activity to determine premiums or reward safe behaviour, 42 per cent of UK citizens said they did not want an organisation to have this data about them.

Similarly, 82 per cent of UK respondents supported emergency buttons on smartphones or smartwatches to send their location to police if they needed help. Only 37 per cent said they would support allowing police to access their location data without granting permission.

Despite coming into effect in January, less than a third of respondents said they had heard of Open Banking, a system that provides a user with a network of financial institutions’ data through the use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Three quarters of respondents who had heard of Open Banking said they would want to know how their information is being protected by third parties before agreeing to Open Banking. Only 20 per cent said they were already using Open Banking services.

When it came to retail, 64 per cent of UK citizens said they would welcome having to use a unique code for extra security when making purchases online, and saw it as a very positive move to combat online fraud. In addition, 55 per cent of respondents said they would like all online purchases to be subject to verification.

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