Data security becoming political issue

Less than half of U.S. residents believe their personalinformation is safe when they shop online, and half avoid makingonline purchases because of security fears, according to a surveyreleased Tuesday.

U.S. voters are also beginning to see cybersecurity as an issuethey will judge political candidates on, the Cyber SecurityIndustry Alliance (CSIA) said. Forty-six percent of the likelyvoters surveyed said they would have serious doubts about acandidate who does not support swift action to pass laws requiringcustomer notification after data breaches, and 71 percent ofrespondents said they want the U.S. Congress to pass a breachnotification law, the CSIA said.

“We are seeing economic and political consequences come aboutfrom that lack of confidence,” said Paul Kurtz, CSIA’s executivedirector. “The issue is starting to resonate with people.”

Data-breach notification bills have bipartisan support,according to the survey. More than three-quarters of Democrats, andmore than two-thirds of Republicans, said they support a nationaldata breach notification law.

A handful of data-breach notification bills remain stuck atvarious stages in Congress, but a data breach at the U.S.Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may push the legislationforward, Kurtz said. On Monday, the VA announced that the personalrecords of 26.5 million U.S. military veterans and their spouseswere stolen after a VA analyst took the data home.

“If you’re looking for a wake-up call for Congress to dosomething, this is one hell of a wake-up call,” Kurtz said. “Idon’t know what other kind of wake-up call we need.”

U.S. consumer confidence in cybersecurity has declined slightlysince the CSIA’s last survey released in December, the group said.Forty-four percent of respondents said they think their personalinformation is safe when they use e-commerce sites, and only 24percent said businesses are placing the right emphasis onprotecting information systems and networks.

Only 34 percent of respondents said they believe banking onlineis as safe as banking in person, and 94 percent said they believeidentity theft is a serious problem, although that percentage isdown slightly from a year ago.

The nationwide survey of 1,150 adults has a 3 percent margin oferror and was conducted by Pineda Consulting in late April.

CSIA is a trade group representing about 20 cybersecurityvendors.

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