Two-thirds of consumers around the world believe that that the current economic crisis has impacted their personal risk for ID theft or fraud, according to research conducted in February and March by Unisys Corporation.

The current global findings of the Unisys Security Index, which complement recently released country-specific results, also show that fears about bank card fraud and identity theft have increased. These areas remain the top overall consumer concerns globally, where they have ranked since Unisys began the comprehensive biannual study in 2007, and the increase in ID theft fears reverses a small downward trend. In addition, the survey saw 10 point increase in Internet security fears worldwide, which included near equal rises in concerns about online banking and shopping as well as computer viruses and spam.

“Our research is a wake up call to every organization that serves consumers since perception is reality, and security fears are clearly growing worldwide,” said Tim Kelleher, vice president and general manager, Managed Security Services, Unisys. “Not only do the vast majority of people believe that the current global financial crisis directly increases their personal risk of being an ID theft or fraud victim, but general concerns about online transactions, computer viruses, and meeting financial obligations all saw significant increases among consumers worldwide. While the economic environment is difficult, it is more imperative than ever that businesses and governments assuage these fears by investing in unified solutions that address all their security vulnerabilities.”

The Unisys Security Index is a biannual global study of consumer opinion on four areas of security: financial, national, Internet and personal safety. The results are tallied on a scale of 0-300, with 300 representing the highest level of perceived concern. More than 8,500 consumers in Asia-Pacific, Brazil, Europe and the U.S. responded to the latest survey conducted from late February and March, 2009. Each survey also includes supplemental research on a security niche topic such as the current data on the impact of the global economic crisis on ID theft and related fraud fears.

The average global score for the current Unisys Security Index is 133, indicating moderate security fears overall. The overall score has remained relatively constant since the research began in August 2007; however, there are some striking geographic differences and higher concerns in specific areas:

·       While personal, financial, and Internet security concerns all increased in the current study, national security concerns continue to decline globally, continuing a trend since the research began in 2007.

·       Compared to the last study in September 2008, increases in financial security fears are highest in Germany, Spain (both countries’ scores are up 15 points), New Zealand (+14 points), and the U.S. (+12).

·       Germany and Brazil are tied with the highest scores (177) in financial security fears; however, Brazil is down is down nine points in the latest research.

·       The spike in Internet security was driven by big increases in Spain (+22 points), New Zealand (+18), and the U.K (+10). Germany has the highest level of concern about Internet security with a score of 167, nearly matching its overall Security Index score of 169.

·       An overwhelming majority (84 percent) of Spanish consumers believe the financial crisis will increase their risk of ID theft and fraud schemes. Nearly three quarters of people in the U.S. (74 percent) and U.K (72 percent) share a high concern in this area.

·       The Netherlands and Belgium and have the lowest Unisys Security Index scores in all categories. Citizens in these countries in particular are least concerned about national security (scoring only 67 and 74, respectively).

·       Belgium and the Netherlands have much lesser security concerns as compared to Germany, Spain and the U.K., showing clear contrasts in the Benelux region and larger Western European countries.

·       With a Unisys Security Index score of 178, Brazil is the most concerned country overall, and also ranks top or second (to Germany) in all categories.

·       New Zealand saw the greatest change (+15 points) to 124 in its overall score compared to the last results in September 2008.

“We continue to see unique nuances around the world, which can provide insight for businesses and governments when developing security solutions and communicating to customers,” Kelleher said. “The Unisys Security Index is a reminder that one global solution can’t always be the answer when cultural differences and regional issues impact consumers’ views. Enterprises need to take a more unified approach to security and consider both common worldwide threats and trends, and how these relate locally depending market conditions.”