Brits are more concerned about COVID-19’s impact on the NHS and the UK economy (61%) than their own personal health (41%); British consumers are less worried about online threats, with concerns about hacking and using online services falling drastically compared to 2019, while the majority are working from home
The 2020 Unisys Security Index™ found that Brits are more worried about national concerns and less about personal health or digital risks during the COVID-19 global health crisis. The UK placed the infrastructure of the National Health Service (NHS) as its highest concern during COVID-19, as compared to the average consumer globally that placed its family’s health as the primary concern.
The 2020 Unisys Security Index surveyed more than 15,000 consumers in 15 countries, including more than 1,000 in the U.K., between March and April 2020. Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS) gauged attitudes on a wide range of security-related issues and created an index based on consumers’ feedback. The index is a calculated score from zero to 300 based on concern about eight specific issues within the categories of national, financial, internet and personal security.
The U.K. kept the same level of security concerns on the Unisys Security Index as 2019, with a score of 147 out of 300. However, the areas that Brits were most anxious about changed dramatically in light of the pandemic, and the U.K.’s perception of its own security shifted.
The research highlighted that 61% of Brits were concerned about the stability of their country’s health infrastructure during a pandemic, while only 41% were worried about their own physical health. As the government advised the nation to stay home and protect the NHS, the survey showed how the UK has grown more confident in its new digital world as it strives to protect communities.
Brits were less worried about online threats such as computer viruses and hacking; levels dropped from 41% in 2019 to 31% in 2020. Perceived online shopping risks also fell drastically, to 38% in 2020. Cybercrimes related to identity theft were also less of a concern to the UK. More than half (56%) worried about this in 2019, dropping to 48% in 2020. This suggests that consumers are not as focused on cybercrime, despite threats becoming more pervasive, with cyber criminals targeting the growth in remote workers and the increased public reliance on online shopping during lockdown. Latest figures from Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, already show a loss of over £2 million just for COVID-19 related reports, with the belief that the actual number may be even higher.
Although concerns over internet and data security issues have decreased for many consumers in the midst of the global health crisis (the UK index score for internet security fell from 161 in 2019 to 139 in 2020) the idea of data sharing and privacy continues to ring alarm bells. Public concerns have been raised over the delayed NHS track and trace app and how personal data will be used and secured. However, the Unisys survey highlighted that consumers are more comfortable sharing their data with public sector organisations, such as the police or government agencies, as opposed to private sector businesses – which could be a positive sign for the adoption of the tracing app if and when it is made available.
“With the U.K. under lockdown, many Brits have been forced to embrace digital technologies. Consumers work, shop, use financial services and participate in social events online,” said Salvatore Sinno, global chief security architect, Unisys. “Worryingly, U.K. consumers tend to be less concerned about how their personal data is collected and handled. Downplaying privacy and potential threats might turn to cybercriminals’ advantage, who see this crisis as an opportunity to exploit any gaps and develop sophisticated methods to leverage possible vulnerabilities.”
As the safety measures imposed by the government significantly reduced face-to-face interactions, the older generation has now embraced digital technologies. Over 55s were increasingly confident with keeping their devices secure, reporting fraud and using online banking services – even more so than younger generations. For instance, compared to 45% of the older respondents, only 34% of those aged 18-24 have an anti-virus software installed on their smart phone. In addition, more than three quarters (78%) of over 55s claim to be just as careful when securing their personal and financial details on their smart phones as they are on other devices. The youngest generation surveyed was less wary of mobile threats, with 65% saying they apply similar precautionary measures to their phone as well as their other personal devices.
“Having been brought up in an analogue world, users over the age of 50 are usually viewed as technophobes struggling in the digital era,” said JP Cavanna, UK and EMEA industry director, cybersecurity, Unisys. “However, the survey shows the opposite is true; they are now much more wary of cyber risks – such as SMS fraud and phishing – than the younger generations and are better equipped to face evolving cybersecurity risks.”
For more results and information on the 2020 Unisys Security Index, visit: https://www.unisys.com/unisys-security-index/uk.