The latest survey by Unisys of consumer security concerns found that Americans are more alarmed about the possibility of identity theft and bankcard fraud than they are about national security in general.

The 2019 Unisys Security Index report, released by the company today, finds that in 2019 63 percent of Americans were “seriously concerned … about the unauthorized access to or misuse of their personal information.”  Separately, 58 percent said they are seriously concerned “about other people obtaining and using their credit or debit card details.”

Based on an index with a maximum value of 300 points, the 2019 survey of U.S. consumer sentiment placed internet security concerns at a score of 170 and financial security concerns at 167.  Both were unchanged from the 2018 survey.  By contrast, national security concern came in at 163, up two points from last year.

Within those broader categories, concerns about identity theft rose by two percent, “indicating that U.S. consumers continue to feel an overall sense of vulnerability about how their personal data is being captured, stored and used by organizations,” the report says.

The continued high degree of concern about bankcard fraud “indicates that despite convenient new payment and banking solutions, fears about Bankcard Fraud are not being adequately addressed,” the report says.

Following a broad theme from prior annual surveys, Unisys said its 2019 survey “hints at a widespread perception that consumers do not fully trust the organizations that hold their personally identifiable data.”

“Businesses and government agencies that hold this type of data on their clients or constituents should make its protection the highest priority, while clearly communicating the steps they are taking to keep it safe,” it says.

On the other side of the security data-gathering coin, the report found that 74 percent of Americans say they support the use of facial recognition technology in some situations, including 51 percent liking it for airport security, 32 percent supporting its use at voting facilities, and 32 percent approving to verify identity when making online transactions with their banks.

Regarding use of artificial intelligence technologies, the survey reports that 67 percent support use for identifying suspicious online activities including hacking, but only 37 percent like it for use in self-driving cars.

On the policy front, Unisys listed the following recommendations for businesses and government agencies to address consumer concerns:

  • Continue to move toward adoption of a zero-trust security model “that assumes all network traffic is a potential threat;”
  • Focus on “both technology and people in order to meet the expectations of an increasingly concerned clientele;”
  • Address “the risk associated with the growing number of devices in an around the enterprise and where employees are taking them;” and
  • Protect clients by “establishing irrefutable identities using biometrics and other advanced technology.”
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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.