Survey: Lack of Confidence in Cyber Security Has Economic, Political Effects

June 7, 2006

Americans share a lack of confidence in the Internet that could have political consequences. In addition, the lack of action by government to boost security of the digital infrastructure is manifesting itself in economic losses.

Those are two conclusions formed by the Cyber Security Industry Alliance at the release of its survey measuring the American public’s confidence in the security of the nation’s digital infrastructure.

The results of the nationwide survey of 1,150 adults conducted on behalf of CSIA by Pineda Consulting show that fewer than one in five Americans feel that existing laws are enough to protect them on the Internet. Moreover, voters express a clear preference for strong federal data security legislation even when presented with the argument that it will result in unwanted notices and higher prices. Some 70 percent of likely voters agree that Congress should pass a strong data security law anyway.

“The rash of high-profile data breaches over the past 18 months has compromised more than 55 million personal records. Meanwhile, Congress has spent more than a year debating data security legislation without results as the issue of data security has been rising in the public consciousness,” said Paul Kurtz, executive director of CSIA. “While data security alone won’t be a deciding factor in an election, the survey does reveal that voters have serious doubts about candidates opposed to strong data security laws. ”

Kurtz maintains that consumers are beginning to understand the link between their privacy and data security and they are looking to their government leaders for action. His group is encouraging Congress to pass a comprehensive national data security law this year. Such a law would “establish reasonable security measures, create a consistent and recognizable notification standard, encourage best practices such as encryption, and include effective enforcement.”

The survey also showed that CSIA’s Digital Confidence Index (DCI), a measurement designed to be taken over time to measure how economic, government or natural events impact the confidence of Americans in nation’s information infrastructure, remained stagnant. There survey suggests there is an underlying concern about the nation’s digital infrastructure, which is reflected in a DCI ranking of 57 on a 100-point scale, a decrease of one point since November 2005.

According to CSIA, this lack of confidence continues to manifest itself through consumer behavior that suggests economic losses:

Only 44 percent of Americans feel their information is safe when engaging in e-commerce and 50 percent avoid making purchases online because they are afraid their financial information will be stolen.

Only a third (34 percent) of Americans feel that banking online is as safe as banking in person.

94 percent of Americans feel that identity theft is a serious problem.
Only 24 percent of Americans say that businesses are placing the right emphasis on protecting information systems and networks.

“The significance of this survey is simple: there are consequences to continued inaction. Half of Americans are too afraid to shop online because they just aren’t confident that they are protected. We actually saw a slight decline in the number of Americans who feel secure shopping online over the last six months, so clearly things are not getting better on their own,” said Kurtz.

“If we cannot create a trusted digital environment, it won’t just impact e-business, it will impact all business because nearly every company’s assumptions about growth involve the continued acceptance and usage of our digital networks. A loss of consumer confidence is a billion dollar problem and it is time for Congress to move forward with a national data security bill that assures Americans they are being protected online.”

The nationwide survey of 1,150 adults has a 3 percent margin of error and was conducted by Pineda Consulting in late April 2006.

A more detailed report can be found at www.csialliance.org.

Source: CSIA

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