By Daniel Hunter

Almost two thirds (61%) of surveyed UK consumers would trust the government to look after their digital identity data as part of the planned UK Online Identity Scheme, according to the results of the latest Unisys Security Index.

Although 91% of UK residents surveyed support the government’s plans for the scheme, a worryingly low number would put their trust in private companies (9%) to manage identity credentials. Whilst 15% of respondents said they would trust credit card companies to manage a digital identity scheme, just 4% of the respondents stated their trust in social media providers.

The Unisys Security Index, a survey of 968 respondents in the UK, also this year revealed the biggest swing in consumer security confidence since the survey began in 2007. Following a dip in the level of concern that may have been driven by a burst of optimism fueled by the London Olympics in 2012, the level of concern in 2013 jumped to 135 from 97 last year, on a scale of 1 to 300.

To date, a number of non-government organisations have been chosen to design and deliver a secure online identity registration service for the Department for Work and Pensions. It is anticipated that as part of the Digital By Default Programme, over time Identity Assurance will become available to all UK citizens who need to access online public services, such as with HMRC for tax or DEFRA for Rural Payments.

The annual Unisys Security Index has also revealed that 51% of respondents trust lawyers to manage their identity credentials and 45% would trust a bank with their identity data.

“As the national digital identity scheme continues to progress, the government needs to take note of consumer opinions. The findings suggest that the Government should look more closely at the Identity Assurance model and take note of consumer preferences for a Government owned authentication provider, potentially the Passport Service” says Neil Fisher, VP Global Security Solutions, Unisys.

“With the news that data breaches in the UK have increased tenfold in the past five years and a constant stream of reports revealing new cyber-attacks on commercial organisations, it’s understandable that 61% of consumers surveyed are also seriously concerned about ID theft,” says Fisher.

The Unisys Security Index also found that nearly two-thirds of UK respondents (61%) are seriously concerned about identity theft that could lead to unauthorised access or misuse of their personal information - an increase of 19 points since 2012 (42%).

More than half of Britons (59%) are seriously concerned about other people obtaining and using their debit or credit card details, while almost half (43%) are seriously concerned about the security of shopping or banking online. Despite these concerns consumers continue to spend online, as sales in March 2013 grew 16% year on year.

“These results must serve as a reminder for British institutions and businesses to do everything in their power to protect customer data from cyber as well as physical threats. In today’s hyper-connected world, people are wary of losing valuable data and assets to cybercriminals and want assurances that their personal information is safe, will always be safe and will never be misused,” comments Neil Fisher.

“While we regularly see reports of phishing, Trojan virus or spam attacks in the media, it’s important to note that by taking certain precautions — including those recommended by the Government’s Office for Cyber Security and Information Assurance — the general public can reduce their online vulnerability.”

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