Trust the Cloud? Americans Say No Way

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Americans don't trust cloud storage for their confidential data, with identity theft ranking as their top security concern, according to a twice-yearly survey by network security consulting firm Unisys.

FAQ: Cloud computing, demystified

Asked what they felt about personal data being stored on third-parties' remote computers, 64% say they don't want their data kept by a third party,

Artwork: Chip Taylor
according to the latest installment of "Unisys Security Index: United States."

Misuse of personal information has 65% of respondents very or extremely concerned, the survey says, followed closely by fear of someone stealing credit card information (cited by 64%). That's on a par with respondents' concerns about national security and fighting terrorism, which also found 64% very or extremely concerned.

With a broader set of questions, the survey measures how Americans feel about four areas of security, and in general Americans aren't in a fever about any of them. On a scale of 1 to 300 with 300 being extremely concerned, national security was the biggest worry with a Security Index number of 162, followed by financial security at 156, personal security at 143 and Internet security at 129.

Security Concerns Consistent

Since the study was first done in the fall of 2007, national security has been the top concern for five survey periods, dipping to number 2 just once in the first quarter of this year. Financial security has risen from number 3 to either number 1 or 2 over the past three surveys.

A quarter of Americans have no concerns at all about Internet security, which is roughly the same as the percentage of those who don't use the Internet at all, the Unisys survey says. Similarly, 30% of Americans have no worries about the security of online shopping and banking, and they may be the people who don't shop or bank online.

A quarter of Americans have no concerns about computer viruses and spam, but 42% are very or extremely concerned about them, the survey says.

Most Americans (67%) have little fear about their personal safety, and 35% have no fear about it, the survey finds. But 47% are very or extremely concerned about a widespread health epidemic such as swine flu. That's a jump of 6% since the start of this year, a significant leap, the survey says.

In general, black respondents were more worried about all areas measured by the survey -- epidemic, meeting financial obligations, misuse of personal information, personal safety and bank card fraud. At least 72% said they were very or extremely concerned about each these areas. For whites and Hispanics, the highest such level of concern was 63%.

Those who make the most money have the least concern about financial obligations (36%), online transactions (38%) and a health epidemic (37%).

College graduates are also less worried. The percentage of grads who are very or extremely concerned about national security, health epidemic, identity theft, meeting financial obligations and personal safety are lower than those who didn't graduate from college.

The U.S. Security Index is based on a telephone survey of 1,005 people 18 and older.

This story, "Trust the Cloud? Americans Say No Way" was originally published by Network World.

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