While 98% of Canadian business leaders and decision makers believe it is important for a company to ensure that any sensitive data is protected against improper activity, the facts tell a different story, according to a recent poll of businesses and consumers.

According to the survey, 55% of Canadian companies say that their confidential and private data is at risk of an attack, despite the fact that most consumers (58%) would immediately terminate their relationship with a company that compromised their personal information.

The Fusepoint/Sun Microsystems/Leger Marketing survey also showed that 14% of Canadian consumers believe they have already been a victim of identity theft, with 38% of respondents saying they know someone who has been a victim of identity theft. In addition, 74% of consumers believe that everybody, including those possessing advanced technological know-how, is at equal risk of identity theft.

“With the exponential growth in the volume and sophistication of online threats, executives must heed their customers’ calls to take the necessary steps to protect their data and infrastructure from being compromised,” said Fusepoint President and CEO George Kerns. “This is not a simple business issue. It’s a fundamental matter of trust.”

“Smart enterprises know security and privacy are good for business, and yet many companies in Canada and around the world don’t take this message to heart,” added Andy Canham, president of Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc.

Dr. Clemens Martin, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, asserted that many businesses are operating under a false sense of security. “All too often we see corporate networks become compromised by an ‘igloo effect’ of sorts,” he said. “All it takes is one ill-advised employee to unknowingly compromise a network’s hard outer shell, and all other security measures in place could simply melt away.”