Majority of consumers fear compromise of their personal data, survey says

Survey shows 83 percent of respondents share concern over ID theft within one to two years.
Written by John Fontana, Contributor

A majority of consumers are concerned that within the next two years they will have their personal data stolen from a business or government agency, according to a new survey from TransUnion.

The survey, presented at this week's Global Identity Summit (GIS), shows that 83 percent of respondents share concern over identity theft fueled by stolen personal data.

The GIS conference is hosted by the US federal government and aimed at the worldwide identity community.

Consumers said "two-factor authentication using passwords" was the most important emerging technology that governments can use to prevent identity theft. Respondents also listed identity verification and biometrics and fingerprint technology as important technologies.

Consumer concerns are not unfounded or completely fueled by the recurring reports of hacks that have compromised hundreds of millions of personal records this year alone. The survey shows that 53 percent of consumers have already been a victim of identity theft or that someone in their household had been a victim. The incidents include identity theft, online fraud, or personal data stored by a business or government agency.

In addition, 52 percent of respondents said they are concerned with the tools that organizations and agencies use to protect their data. The study comes at a time when some companies are admitting they cannot remain viable after a breach if it means having to pay for credit monitoring services to protect victims.

The survey also found that 55 percent of consumers want government organizations to mandate better authentication security beyond a username and password.

Last year, the government jumped into action on a mandate after the massive hack of the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that affected 21 million people. In the wake of the attack, federal agencies started a "30-day cyber sprint" to beef up cybersecurity. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) mandated the effort. A primary goal of the sprint was to accelerate implementation of multi-factor authentication, especially for privileged users.

In May of this year, however, Information Security Certification Organization (ISC)² found that 52 percent of respondents to its survey disagreed that the cyber sprint improved overall security of federal information systems, and 25 percent said their agency made no changes at all.

The TransUnion's survey polled 1,033 adults.

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