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US citizens want government to strengthen cyber protection

Three-quarters (74 per cent) of citizens surveyed lack confidence in government’s ability to keep their data private and secure

US citizens want more robust policies around data protection and security
US citizens want more robust policies around data protection and security

More than three-quarters of US citizens polled by Accenture, are concerned about the privacy and security of their personal digital data. That’s one of the findings of a survey commissioned by Acccenture and carried out by the Market Strategy Group in the US during September and October 2016.


Nearly 3,500 US citizens took part in the survey, and almost two thirds (63 per cent) said that they would feel more reassured if government agencies and service providers with which they are involved, had more robust data-privacy and security policies.


The survey, in which nearly one-third (30 percent) of respondents said they had been a victim of cyber crime, found that three-quarters (74 per cent) of citizens lack confidence in government’s ability to keep their data private and secure, and almost two-thirds (65 per cent) lack confidence in the ability of law-enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cyber crimes once committed.


Lalit Ahluwalia, lead of Accenture’s security work with state and local government clients in North America said, This survey confirms that cyber insecurity is pervasive, with citizens feeling concerned and vulnerable.


“All organizations must make cyber security a top priority and move to deploy end-end cyber defense solutions to combat threats to data, and to ensure citizen confidence when engaging with government agencies.”


The research also found that two-thirds of respondents (66 per cent) said they would be willing to sacrifice convenience for increased data security.


More than half (60 per cent) said they supported improved security measure of answering additional login questions, and nearly half (47 per cent) supported the use of biometric technologies to verify identity and secure access.


Citizens also expressed support for new security services that agencies could adopt to enhance their data privacy and security measures.


Respondents agreed that the availability of a secure digital identity (85 per cent), the undertaking of regular security assessments (82 percent) and new cyber defense services (85 per cent) would improve their confidence in the privacy and security of their data.


The study identified cyber insecurity among citizens as being pervasive across all organisations with which they interact.


Respondents however, did not perceive an increased threat related to government-held data, with more than three-quarters (79 per cent) believing that their data is as secure or more secure with government as with commercial organisations.


When asked to identify the highest-perceived cyber-security threats, respondents most often cited identity theft (68 per cent) and unauthorised access to financial accounts (64 per cent). More than half (55 per cent) cited concern about credit card information theft.


The survey also found that, despite citizen worry about cyber threats, improved cyber security and data protection measures could improve their attitudes toward government.


Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents said that increased data security measures would increase their satisfaction with government agencies. More than half said that improved data security measures would increase their willingness to interact with government agencies and build their confidence and trust in those organisations (cited by 58 per cent and 57 per cent, respectively).


Peter Hutchinson, public service strategy lead at Accenture said, “While government agencies face many cyber security challenges, the research found strong citizen support for government organisations to take steps to increase data security and protect citizen information. Government agencies that take a comprehensive end-to-end security approach by integrating cyber security deep into their organizations will not only secure their data, but also win the trust and confidence of the citizens they serve.”


Interestingly, respondents who interacted with government regularly (daily or multiple times per day) were more than twice as likely as those who don’t, to express confidence in government’s ability to protect their data (64 per cent versus 27 per cent) and significantly more confident in the ability of law enforcement to prosecute cyber crime (67 per cent versus 36 per cent).


Millennials (those between the ages of 18 and 35) were the most likely to express confidence in the government’s data-protection abilities, at 35 per cent, and senior citizens (those 65 years and older) the least likely, at just 16 per cent.


This survey follows Accenture’s previous report Building Confidence: Facing the Cybersecurity Conundrum that gauged the effectiveness of enterprise security efforts and the adequacy of existing investments.


The results of this survey were analyzed in collaboration with Oxford Economics to develop the Accenture Security Index comparing the relative strength of organisations to protect themselves from cyber attacks.


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