European consumers are not feeling too threatened by risks to their personal, online and national security, but have pockets of concerns when it comes to their financial security and threats such as credit card fraud and unauthorised access to personal information.
These findings are revealed in Unisys' first European study of consumer attitudes to security which also identifies some cultural nuances amongst each of the countries surveyed.
The Unisys Security Index is the first of an ongoing global research project to help businesses and governments understand consumer attitudes to national, personal, financial and Internet security. Assessing the opinion of more than 13 000 people in 14 countries, across Europe, the US, Brazil and Asia Pacific, the survey will be repeated three times a year. The Index measures consumer perceptions towards four areas of security, assessing concerns on a scale of zero to 300, with 300 representing the highest level of perceived anxiety.
With 6 338 consumers polled in Europe, the overall index stands at 116, indicating a moderate level of concern from European consumers. By topic, the index for Europe stands at 127 for financial security, followed by national and personal security (115) and internet security (108). While the index only highlights a moderate level of concern towards security overall, European consumers do voice significant concerns with certain issues across all four categories and their ratings vary greatly from one country to another – with Germany and the UK emerging as the most concerned.
Key findings from the index include:
* Attitudes towards security vary significantly across Europe, with Germany and the UK appearing more anxious than the other European countries;
* The top concern of Europeans is the security of their financial details, with 81 per cent of consumers fearing misuse of their personal information and credit card fraud;
* Nearly three-quarters of consumers on the continent are comfortable with their increasing reliance on technology in their daily lives and the impact of this breaking down. In addition, only 30% of Europeans are significantly concerned about their online security;
* Overall, national security is not regarded as a key threat for European consumers, with only 35% citing this as a significant concern. There are however some differences between countries, with much higher level of concerns in the UK and Germany. A similar trend is noticeable for health epidemic issues; and
* Widespread acceptance of new security measures including video surveillance and increased security when travelling. On the continent, four in five people are comfortable with an increase in video surveillance and increased security when travelling – especially at airports.
81% of consumers surveyed show some level of concern about the risk of others accessing and misusing their personal information, and rightly so as cases of identity fraud continue to rise throughout Europe. In particular, 78% of Germans cite this as a significant worry, followed by the UK (62%) and Belgium (57%).
Credit card, debit card or bank account fraud is also a worry for 81% of Europeans, with 55% rating this as a top issue. The older generation across Europe is most worried, with young adults citing this as less of a concern. Amongst the 45 – 54 year olds, 57% see this as a significant worry, compared to 49% of 25 – 34 year olds.
Nearly three quarters of consumers on the continent are comfortable with their increasing reliance on technology in their daily lives and only have a low level of concern about the impact of it breaking down, with the index also revealing cultural nuances across certain countries on this issue. Only 14% of the French cite this as a significant concern, followed by Holland and Italy (15%), compared with 57% of the Germans.
The index also reveals a lower level of concern towards the threat of viruses, spyware or spam (35%) and security when shopping or banking online (30%). In Belgium, only 41% of the population cite online safety as a top concern, followed by the UK and Holland (38%) and Spain (32%).
Overall, these findings suggest that the majority of Europeans do appreciate the role technology plays in enhancing daily tasks such as banking online, managing household bills and arranging travel, and while they recognise the disadvantages of technology failing or being corrupted, these are far outweighed by the advantages it brings.
Overall, national security threats do not significantly concern the majority of Europeans, with the exception of the UK and Germany where 57% and 50 per cent of consumers remain anxious. Those European countries with some level of concern about national security also tend to worry more about national security than about epidemics. The low ratings on concern for epidemics stand in sharp contrast to reports of recent outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in the UK and Netherlands.
Where there is strong consensus across Europe, however, is towards the use of video surveillance in public places. The French in particular accept this move (76%), followed by Italy (72%) and Spain (65%). Likewise, when polled about an increase in security measures when travelling, 73% of the Dutch recognised the benefits of this for their public safety, followed by France (69%). This acceptance of the benefits increased security measures bring, offers some explanation on why national security threats are not a significant concern for the majority of European consumers.