General public more aware of security threats: RSA

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Though memory sticks still end up at dry cleaners.

Reporting on security concerns around social networking sites has led to an increased knowledge of online privacy.

A survey by RSA found that consumer awareness of phishing attacks has doubled between 2007 and 2009, and the number of consumers who reported falling prey to this attack increased six times during that same period.

In addition, while hundreds of thousands of people join social networking websites each day, the survey exposed that nearly two in three people who belong to these online communities indicated they are less likely to interact or share information due to their growing security concerns. Also, four out of five people using social networking websites displayed concern with the safety of their personal information online.

The number of people who were aware of phishing attacks has also doubled from 38 per cent to 76 per cent, while 89 per cent reported concerns caused by the threat of phishing.

However, the survey revealed that most consumers using online banking websites (86 per cent) shared more concern with the theft of their personal information than those using healthcare portals (64 per cent) and government websites (68 per cent). As a result of these concerns, more than half of all consumers reported that they are less likely to share information and interact on these websites.

Consumers agreed that their identities should be better protected than a simple username and password on social networking (59 per cent), healthcare (64 per cent), government (70 per cent) and online banking websites (80 per cent). Nine in ten consumers are willing to use a stronger form of security if offered.

Christopher Young, senior vice president at RSA, said: “Consumer education and awareness is one of the first lines of defence in the ongoing battle against online crime. Organisations will continue to take advantage of the many benefits offered by the internet and consumers will seek the convenience offered online – all despite the inherent risks.

“In order to maximise the full value of what the online world can offer, organisations need to take a layered approach to internet security in order to best protect their customers' information.”

Despite this improved attitude, a study by Credant Technologies revealed that 4,500 memory sticks have been left in people's pockets in the last year as they take their clothes to be washed at the local dry cleaners.

Sean Glynn, vice president and chief marketing officer, said that their experience on the frontline of this battle is that users are now downloading information onto smartphones and netbooks, so although on the surface the decline looks promising, in reality the situation has just been spread across a multitude of other devices.

He said: “Although this study shows a positive drop in the number of lost memory sticks we would urge users to take more care than ever not to download unprotected customer details and other sensitive information that if lost could lead to a security breach, especially now there are harsh fines afoot.”

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