by CIO Staff

Survey: Data Security Becoming Political Issue

May 24, 20063 mins

Less than half of U.S. residents believe their personal information is safe when they shop online, and half avoid making online purchases because of security fears, according to a survey released Tuesday.

U.S. voters are also beginning to see cybersecurity as an issue they will judge political candidates on, the Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA) said. Forty-six percent of the likely voters surveyed said they would have serious doubts about a candidate who does not support swift action to pass laws requiring customer notification after data breaches, and 71 percent of respondents said they want the U.S. Congress to pass a breach notification law, the CSIA said.

“We are seeing economic and political consequences come about from that lack of confidence,” said Paul Kurtz, CSIA’s executive director. “The issue is starting to resonate with people.”

Data-breach notification bills have bipartisan support, according to the survey. More than three-quarters of Democrats and more than two-thirds of Republicans said they support a national data-breach notification law.

A handful of data-breach notification bills remain stuck at various stages in Congress, but a data breach at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may push the legislation forward, Kurtz said. On Monday, the VA announced that the personal records of 26.5 million U.S. military veterans and their spouses were stolen after a VA analyst took the data home.

“If you’re looking for a wake-up call for Congress to do something, this is one hell of a wake-up call,” Kurtz said. “I don’t know what other kind of wake-up call we need.”

U.S. consumer confidence in cybersecurity has declined slightly since the CSIA’s last survey released in December, the group said. Forty-four percent of respondents said they think their personal information is safe when they use e-commerce sites, and only 24 percent said businesses are placing the right emphasis on protecting information systems and networks.

Only 34 percent of respondents said they believe banking online is as safe as banking in person, and 94 percent said they believe identity theft is a serious problem, although that percentage is down slightly from a year ago.

The nationwide survey of 1,150 adults has a 3 percent margin of error and was conducted by Pineda Consulting in late April.

CSIA is a trade group representing about 20 cybersecurity vendors.

-Grant Gross, IDG News Service

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