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Identity theft still Asia's top concern

Misuse of personal information remains a key security concern in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, reveals latest Unisys Security Index.

update SINGAPORE--Identity theft remains at the top of Singaporeans' security concerns, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The fourth edition of the Unisys Security Index revealed that 83 percent of respondents are anxious about identity theft.

The survey polled 891 respondents, between the ages of 18 and 64, in Singapore to gauge its citizens' perception of security threats. The island-state scored 173 points, out of a possible 300, up slightly from 172 in September but down from the 188 index in May this year.

"The top two areas of concern for the past few surveys have been consistently identity theft and credit/debit card fraud," Scott Whyman, Asia South vice president and general manager at Unisys, said in an interview.

"In spite of healthy discussion and banks putting in tighter security measures, people still feel threatened regarding identity theft," said Whyman, adding that there were similar observations among other countries in the region, such as Malaysia and Hong Kong.

This is not necessarily a negative reflection on the region's security level, he said. "You need a high level of concern to instill changes. Being complacent is an insidious threat to security," he noted.

According to Whyman, health pandemics--at 72 percent--ranked third as a key security concern, though fear of terrorist attacks had been highlighted in this position based on previous releases of the Security Index.

Call for safer air transport
A new question added to this edition of the survey shed light on how Singaporeans felt about existing aviation security standards. Almost all responded favorably to having more done in terms airport security.

Some 96 percent of Singaporeans supported the implementation of one or more security measures at airports, such as consistent baggage screening and tracking. Another 97 percent said they would be personally prepared to undertake measures such as having luggage electronically tagged, providing biometric information and arriving earlier for extra security screening.

However, only 42 percent said they were willing to pay extra for tickets to cover the cost of extra security measures.

"This indicates a need for greater participation and cooperation between the government, commercial organizations and consumers," said David Chambers, Unisys partner of global transportation. He explained that there needs to be increased dialog and subsidies for such measures between the three parties, so that the burden of extra security may not be placed on only one group's shoulders.

"There needs to be a greater need for standardization among different airports and airlines, because security is only as strong as its weakest link," Chambers said.