Study: Security Fears Hurting Web Businesses

Matt O'Conner
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – As Americans become more aware of risks associated with identity theft and computer attacks, they are less likely to share personal information or make transactions online, according to an annual study conducted by RSA Security.

The phone survey of more than 1,000 computer users revealed that while 61 percent feel they are more informed about identity theft and computer attacks than they were a year ago, 23 percent feel more vulnerable.

About 43 percent of respondents said concerns over security weaknesses have prompted them to stop dealing with websites that require them to give out personal information. More than half or those surveyed — 53 percent — said they have lost confidence in traditional user ID/password-based security schemes, and 70 percent believe websites aren’t providing adequate protection for their personal information.

“Clearly, there’s a lot of work to be done if businesses want to build more online trust with consumers,” said John Worrall, vice president of worldwide marketing at RSA Security. “While awareness of threats remains high, consumer confidence in dealing with threats is low.”

According to the survey, poor management of PINs and passwords for access to online services is the top security concern for most users, and consumers are increasingly insisting that websites provide members with a second level of protection beyond passwords.

“We’ve seen the beginnings of a trend toward the widespread replacement of passwords with better authentication methods,” Worrall said. “Its continuation will help bridge the gap between consumer awareness of identity theft and actual protection against it.”