RSA Survey: Online Security Confidence Crisis Coming

Michael Vizard

It looks like security has finally become a consumer issue. In a survey of 4,500 consumers worldwide conducted by the RSA division of EMC, 65 percent of the respondents said that they are now less likely to share information via online social networks due to security concerns.

Of course, recent high-profile security breaches involving companies such as Google are only going to exacerbate those concerns. For the past several years, social networks in particular and Web sites in general have done an excellent job of minimizing the fall out generated by security breaches by largely denying they ever happened. But as consumers becomes more aware of these issues, it's also becoming clearer that online entities of all types are soon going to be asked to account for their security practices or lack thereof.

According to Seth Geltic, a senior manager within RSA's Identity Protection and Verification group, the time is nearing when consumers will start to demand something more secure than basic passwords to secure their identity. Geltic thinks the ultimate solution will be something akin to the risk-based authentication systems that RSA's banking customers now use routinely online.

Whatever the approach, the ability to drive costs out of business processes, especially in the healthcare field, is directly tied to the ability to leverage the Internet to make those processes accessible. But if a security backlash is in the offing, chances are very good that most of those initiatives will flounder unless companies move to restore lagging security confidence.

Unfortunately, rather than face up to these issues and their associated costs, the online community as a whole has been betting that consumers will continue to see the benefits of online services outweighing the risks. But if the RSA survey is any indication, a couple more high-profile breaches might just result in setting the digital age back a few years while everybody scrambles to deal with security issues that have been largely ignored.

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