Consumer behaviour a threat to security

Two new industry surveys commissioned by Fortinet, a global leader in high-performance cyber security solutions and a Networks Unlimited reseller partner, reveal the majority of consumers across the US (71 percent) are more nervous about their personal information being stolen through a data breach than they were just a year ago. In additional, it was reported that only 28 percent of IT security professionals are confident they have done enough to prevent a security incident.

Despite this shift in consumer sentiment, the research revealed consumers are not taking necessary precautions to protect their personal information. When asked what measures they are implementing to better safeguard their information online, the majority (76 percent) of respondents said they had merely implemented stronger passwords – a step that is typically required when setting up an online account. A significant 20 percent said they aren’t doing anything at all.

Africa is not exempt. According to recent findings by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the threat of cybercrime and cyberattacks has been steadily growing over recent years and particularly in developing countries where criminals can exploit legal loopholes and weak security measures.

In 2014, more than 3,300 cases of identity theft were reported to the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS). Dawid Jacobs, an identity protection and verification expert adds that it in South Africa alone, it is estimated that fraud-related crime through ID theft costs the economy more than R60 billion. “Someone has there identity stolen every 79 seconds,” he adds.

There is no question the cyber threat environment remains dynamic and dangerous, and is gaining in severity. According to a recent report released by the Identity Theft Resource Centre (ITRC), companies in the US experienced a record breaking 783 data breaches in 2014. Already in 2015 this trend has continued. Many of these attacks were initiated by sophisticated hackers looking for ways to circumvent perimeter defenses through compromised devices, while others originated from within the network through unsuspecting employees or partners who, without malicious intent, let cyber criminals in.

“The amount of entry points cyber criminals can use to infiltrate corporate networks and steal precious information is growing rapidly, as the number of devices connected to the network increase,” says Andrew Del Matto, chief financial officer at Fortinet. “If consumers aren’t taking precautions to protect their devices and proprietary data in their personal lives, it is unlikely they are doing so at work, increasing the possibility of a breach. It is more critical now than ever before for businesses to help safeguard the consumer and customer data for which they are responsible. They must take a multi-layered approach to security to protect against both malicious and non-malicious threats, from both inside and outside of the network.”

On a scale of one-to-five with one being “completely trust” and five being “don’t trust at all,” consumers were asked how much they trust various business providers and other institutions to protect their information. The survey found:
· Only 31 percent of consumers completely trust their doctors;
· Only 18 percent completely trust their health insurance providers;
· Only 27 percent completely trust their personal banks;
· Only 14 percent completely trust their credit card companies;
· Only 19 percent completely trust their employers;
· And only four percent completely trust retailers.

In a survey of 250 IT professionals with authority over the security decisions for their organisations, more than half (57 percent) indicated they are most concerned about protecting customer data from cyber criminals. Only 28 percent of those surveyed, however, are completely confident their organisations have done everything possible to prevent a security incident, and 26 percent said they were only half-confident that they have taken the necessary measures to protect their organisation from potential risk.

“Consumers are more concerned than ever about their personal information being compromised through a data breach, with good reason,” says Derek Manky, senior security strategist at Fortinet’s FortiGuard Labs. “The evolving threat landscape puts everyone at greater risk, particularly organisations that aren’t taking the time to rethink their approach to security. An old school approach won’t do. Businesses should seek out a best-of-breed security partner with scale, third-party validated solutions and access to the most up-to-date threat intelligence, to safeguard their networks from threats, no matter the type or where it is initiated, today and in the future.”