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Information Security Concerns on the Rise, Study Finds

More than half of survey respondents say their security concerns are rising -- particularly among those who have experienced breaches firsthand -- but consumers are not taking these incidents lightly

While consumers are perennially worried about breaches in information security, those concerns are rising throughout the U.S. and Europe, enough to have a major impact on consumer loyalty and business relationships, says the new "Secure the Trust of Your Brand" survey of over 2,200 consumers fielded by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and the Business Performance Management (BPM) Forum, and underwritten by Symantec and Factiva.

Not only do more than half of survey respondents say their security concerns are rising -- particularly among those who have experienced breaches firsthand -- but consumers are not taking these incidents lightly: 40 percent have actually stopped a transaction online, on the phone or in a store due to a security concern. More than one third indicate they would strongly consider taking their business elsewhere if their personal information was compromised, and a quarter would definitely take their business elsewhere. There's good reason for such consumer backlash over security: In 2005, more than 52 million account records were stolen or misplaced -- a record year for such breaches.

Among the other key findings of the survey, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation:
  • U.S. consumers polled were most concerned with identity theft -- even more so than terrorist threats and other personal safety issues. Conversely, European consumers cited Internet transaction security as their biggest information-based worry
  • Computer security breaches, such as viruses and spy ware, are clearly a unifying force in both geographies: two thirds of consumers across the U.S. and Europe have been victims of these types of breaches
  • There's room for companies to literally make a name for themselves with robust security policies and response strategies. When asked an open-ended question about their "most trusted" type of industry or specific company in terms of security, consumers' answers varied widely, indicating an opportunity for companies and industries to further build brand trust. Banking was the industry most often named by respondents as "most trusted" for protecting its customers' security, and Symantec/Norton was the company/brand most often named by respondents, with McAfee and Microsoft tied for second.

"These results show that in this digital age, consumer attention is rapidly shifting toward information security, and it's enough to significantly affect brand reputation and value," says Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. "Consequently, IT security and integrity offer a new channel for brands to differentiate themselves from their competitors."


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