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Identity theft bigger concern than terrorism

A new study shows more people in the island-state are concerned with theft of personal details than national security.
Written by Aaron Tan, Contributor

Singaporeans are more concerned about identity and credit card theft than terrorism and epidemics, according to a new study.

The Unisys Security Index, conducted in August this year by research company Synovate for Unisys, measures the level of concern held by Singaporeans toward four areas: national, financial, Internet and personal security.

"The nature of security has changed dramatically over the last decade. In order for businesses and governments to respond to this changing environment, it is important to understand the levels and types of concern in the community toward security issues," said Scott Whyman, vice president and managing director at Unisys Asia South, in a statement Tuesday.

According to the survey, 81 percent of about 900 respondents cited the misuse of personal information as a key security concern, while 80 percent were concerned about unauthorized access to their credit and debit card information.

In contrast, 73 percent of respondents were concerned about a serious health epidemic occurring in Singapore, and 66 percent said they were extremely or very concerned about the threat posed by war or terror attacks.

Fifty percent of Singaporeans were also extremely or very concerned about viruses and unsolicited e-mail messages. However, the level of concern differed between blue- and white-collared workers. Forty-four percent of blue-collared workers were extremely or very concerned, compared to 54 percent of white-collared workers.

Five out of 10 people were extremely or very concerned about the security of their online transactions. The survey revealed that full-time workers were more concerned, with 54 percent saying they were extremely or very concerned about their online transactions, compared to 39 percent of temporary workers.

Remy Wong, a media planner at a global cable TV channel, said: "I carry out a lot of Internet transactions such as online banking and shopping on a regular basis. So, Internet security and identity theft are my topmost concerns at this stage."

Singapore received 173 out of a total score of 300 in the Unisys Security Index which computed by averaging the results of the four survey areas.

"With a mid-way point of 150/300, the Singapore Index suggests that levels of concern are somewhat elevated," Whyman said. "This is the benchmark Index and we need to see future comparative data to put this rating in context."

Similar surveys conducted in Australia and New Zealand revealed a score of 126 and 114, respectively. With a similar score of 173, Malaysians also indicated the same level of security concerns as their counterparts in neighboring Singapore.

Following release of the survey results, the Singapore Unisys Security Index will be undertaken three times each year from 2007.

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