UK consumers are the most open in Europe to the use of biometric technologies to verify their identities
24 November 2008
The Security Index also shows that financial security is now the biggest area of concern for UK consumers, with worries over the misuse of debit or credit card information having increased in the last six months.
The Security Index report reveals that UK consumers have some of the most liberal attitudes in Europe to the use of biometric technology for identification purposes. Respondents in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Belgium were all less willing to verify their identity through the use of fingerprint scans, blood vessel scans, facial scans or iris scans.
When it comes to iris recognition technologies, for example, 74% of those surveyed in the UK are prepared to verify their identity in this fashion, compared to France (45%), Germany (48%), Spain (53%), Italy (43%) and The Netherlands (72%). This reflects heightened concerns in the UK around the issue of identity theft and fraud.
• 75% of UK adults would be willing to use fingerprint scans to verify their identity with banks, government agencies or other organisations
• 56% of Brits would be willing to use scans of blood vessels in the hand to verify their identity with a bank, government agency or other organisation – compared to only 26% of Germans
• 57% of British adults are extremely or very concerned about the issue of ID theft
• Financial security has overtaken personal security as the biggest concern for UK consumers as recession kicks in
Commenting on the research, Neil Fisher, Vice President, Identity Management, Unisys said: “As reports of instances of ID fraud and ID theft continue to make the headlines, this research shows that UK consumers are understandably becomingly increasingly concerned about the security of their personal information. Banks and government organisations need to do all that they can to protect UK consumers, but they need to consider the attitudes of their customers when implementing biometric and other security technologies as a means of protecting them from these threats. Encouragingly, this research clearly demonstrates that the majority of UK consumers have open minds when it comes to using new technologies to solve these problems.”
Further comment on the research came from Jim Norton, Senior Policy Adviser - e-Business & e-Government at the Institute of Directors and member of the IPPR Commission for National Security in the 21st Century who said: "The digital age has ushered in a whole new set of security challenges; the old crimes around fraud have been given new twists as terrorist and criminal groups exploit weaknesses in the storage and management of identity information. It is necessary to put in place robust safeguards at the technology level, but also to complement these through training in good practice. Recent high profile stories of data loss should strengthen the call for a balanced approach using the appropriate authentication technology but also focusing on the right processes and behaviours.”
The survey results revealed the attitudes of consumers across the world to the use of a range of biometric technologies for identification purposes. For example, 56% of Brits would be willing to use vascular recognition technology as a form of identification, 74% would be willing to have their iris scanned and 67% would be prepared to use facial recognition technology as a means of verifying their ID.
The largest shift in attitudes over the last six months has been in relation to national security. Just under half (46%) of those surveyed were extremely or very concerned with the UK’s national security in relation to war or terrorism, an 8% increase in 6 months. A not insignificant 34% of UK adults are also fearful of the risk of a serious health epidemic.
With several high profile incidents of data loss and data theft over the last six months it is perhaps unsurprising that the Brits remain concerned about credit and debit card fraud (63% compared to 59% in March). Some 57% of respondents are also extremely or very concerned about the issue of ID theft.
Concerns over internet security remain relatively low. Only 35% of UK residents are extremely or very concerned with the security of online transactions or by viruses or unsolicited e-mail.
Commenting on these findings Sir Edmund Burton, Chairman of the Information Assurance Advisory Council said: “The indications are that Information and Data are not yet formally acknowledged to be key business assets. They are, therefore, not being effectively managed or protected. There is an urgent need for ‘Information’ to be formally registered on executive board risk registers and closely monitored by audit committees. Individual citizens will not entrust their personal data, confidently, either to government, or to private sector organisations, until it is demonstrated that they will be comprehensively safeguarded. This entails a significant transformation across public and private sectors, built upon a thorough awareness, training and education programme, in order to ensure that those who own and use personal data and information are aware of the risks and disciplines implied, and manage them accordingly.”
The Unisys Security Index is a global research project designed to help businesses and governments understand consumer attitudes towards a range of issues related to financial, personal, Internet and national security. Surveying more than 12,139 people in 13 countries, the study measures consumer perceptions on a scale of zero to 300, with 300 representing the highest level of perceived anxiety.
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