More than one in five (22 percent) of Americans say they have cancelled plans or considered cancelling plans to attend large scale public events due to concerns about physical attacks and the safety of their data, according to the new 2019 Unisys Security Index.
The survey also found that a high majority (83 percent) of Americans are concerned about a criminal attack causing physical harm at large scale events such as sporting events or concert festivals — with half of respondents (50 percent) registering serious concern (extremely or very concerned) about physical attacks. Asked about data safety at such events, 81 percent of respondents reported some level of concern about someone stealing their personal data when using public Wi-Fi at such events, with 52 percent extremely or very concerned. In addition, 78 percent are concerned about someone stealing their credit card data when using public Wi-Fi at such events — with 52 percent extremely or very concerned.
“As the former senior U.S. government official responsible for developing, coordinating, planning and implementing security for the Rio Olympic Games, I fully understand the 2019 Unisys Security Index reporting a rise in citizen concern over event security,” said Peter Ford, director, corporate risk services, G4S. “And I know that the combined physical and cyber focus areas are two of the most important issues that we must continue to address.”
Because many have to travel by air to attend such events, the survey — the longest running snapshot of consumer security concerns conducted globally — also asked U.S. respondents about their support for using biometric data to verify their identities at airports. The Unisys Security Index found a large majority approved of the use of biometrics for security, reliability and convenience purposes. A large majority of respondents (81 percent) said they are comfortable with using biometrics, with 42 percent citing safety and terrorism prevention as the reason. About one third of survey participants stated reliability as a reason, and about one third cited convenience. Those who do not support the use of biometrics for air travel most often cited lack of trust in government or airport authorities or concerns that the data would be lost or hacked as the reasons they do not support it.
”In light of the many highly publicized attacks at large public gatherings, it might not be surprising that many Americans express concern about their physical safety when attending these events,” said Unisys Chief Trust Officer Tom Patterson. “But what may surprise observers is that they also report similar levels of concern about the security of the personal data they carry around on their mobile devices in public. This underscores the need for governments to work with industry to provide innovative ways to protect the devices that are becoming inseparable from people in public spaces.”
The 2019 Unisys Security Index surveyed more than 13,000 consumers in 13 countries, including more than 1,000 in the U.S., in February and March 2019 with additional supplemental research in April 2019. Unisys Corporation gauged their attitudes on a wide range of security-related issues and created an index based on their feedback. The index is a calculated score from 0-300 based on concern about eight specific issues within the categories of national, financial, Internet and personal security.
The new survey shows the U.S. score remaining at its second highest level since the survey began 11 years ago. The index reached its highest level in 2017 but dropped slightly the following year and increased slightly this year. On a scale of 0-300, with 300 representing the highest level of concern, the U.S. index is now at 165, considered a serious level of concern and the highest among the seven developed* countries surveyed.
The survey also found that security concerns in all countries are higher among younger people and those with lower incomes. In the U.S., the survey found 29 percent greater concern among 18-24-year-olds than respondents ages 55-65. U.S. respondents with lower incomes reported 24 percent more concern than higher income respondents.
For more results and information on the 2019 Unisys Security Index and to download a report on the U.S. survey results, visit www.unisys.com/unisys-security-index/us. To view and download a video on the U.S. survey results, visit vimeo.com/showcase/6048966.
*The Unisys Security Index defines a "developed" country as one in which the gross domestic product per capita is measured at $12,000 or more.