Survey: More willing to sacrifice privacy for security

Wednesday - 4/14/2010, 3:54pm EDT

Patricia Titus, CIO, Unisys

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By Dorothy Ramienski
Internet Editor
Federal News Radio

When you think of security -- do you think of locking your car? Setting an alarm system on your home? Going through scanners at the airport?

Unisys conducts a survey every six months, providing a snapshot into what you are thinking of when you think of 'security'.

The latest Unisys Corporation Security Index has just been released, and shows that more people are willing to sacrifice privacy rights in exchange for more security.

Patricia Titus is the chief information security officer at Unysis and explained that the latest results were somewhat surprising.

"We're seeing an increase in the ability and willingness of our travelling public to actually give up some more privacy so that they can travel safer. . . . The other part that's interesting in the Index is that we're seeing a trend of younger people willing to use more biometric-type capability than the demographics of older folks."

In addition, Titus said that personal safety isn't as much of a concern as it has been in the past.

"The United States doesn't traditionally have [terrorist attacks] on a daily basis. We had the crisis of 9/11 and some other events, [but] we're not like other foreign countries that we saw in this particular report, where they're more concerned about their personal safety because they have more terrorist-type activity or more security concerns than we have here in the United States. I think we still have a feeling that we're being protected well by our law enforcement and that Homeland Security is doing a pretty good job."

In previous reports, when the economy was bad, many were concerned about money and the security of their future. Titus said that is no longer on top of the list, but many are still worried about identity theft. In all, she asserted, people's fears fluctuate with outside influences, such as the attempted airline bombing in December, 2009.

"We've seen a significant increase in the reporting of identity theft and breach notification. People are more aware of it. It's being publicized a lot more and it's getting more attention. I also think, though, that people are concerned about traveling, which is why I believe we saw such a significant increase in the willingness of people to be able to provide more privacy information so that they could feel safer on a plane."

This is the sixth Security Index that Unisys has released. Titus explained that the same basic set of questions is asked each time, "We started doing this in 2007, so we've got a nice track record in the report of showing the changes in folks being extremely concerned to not concerned at all."