Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Kiwis lose confidence in safety of private information

The public believed their personal and credit card data was "significantly at risk". Photo / Thinkstock
The public believed their personal and credit card data was "significantly at risk". Photo / Thinkstock

Most New Zealanders have lost confidence that government departments, financial institutions and telecommunications companies can keep their private information safe, according to a recent survey.

The Unisys Security Index survey has found three quarters of the 505 respondents were concerned about an accidental or deliberate data breach of information held by banks or credit card companies, and two in three people surveyed were concerned about telecommunication providers and government services.

Unisys New Zealand company manager Steve Griffin said of the organisations in the survey, only airlines and hotels recorded a result below 50 per cent level of concern.

"This likely reflects the priority individuals place on protecting what they consider to be high value data such as financial, taxation and medical details."

Mr Griffin said recent data breaches such as with the Earthquake Commission (EQC), where customer data was inadvertently sent to the wrong person, highlighted that the risk of an accidental breach caused by human error was just as critical as the malicious threat of theft or deliberate hacking.

The public believed their personal and credit card data was "significantly at risk".

"Organisations have got to respond to that risk to bring back that confidence level of the people using their services."

People need to use trusted organisations but understand the risks involved, he said.

Most of the recent publicised data breaches were accidental rather than malicious, Mr Griffin said.

"But you can imagine the more and more breaches that become very very public, the lower the confidence is going to be in those organisations."

It wasn't a simple task for organisations to rebuild public confidence, but it needed a "concentrated effort", to achieve the right levels of security, Mr Griffin said.

The survey measured consumer perceptions on a scale of zero to 300, with 300 representing the highest level of perceived concern.

The Unisys Security Index score for New Zealand was 134 out of 300 - down 10 points from 144 recorded in March last year.

The research was conducted in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Columbia, Germany, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Percentage of New Zealanders concerned about a data breach by accidental loss, theft or deliberate hacking at the following types of organisations:

• Financial services such as credit card companies and banks: 76 per cent;

• Telecommunication providers and internet service providers: 65 per cent;

• Government services such as social welfare, tax office or immigration: 63 per cent;

• Health organisations, hospitals and doctors: 57 per cent; and

• Airlines and hotels including frequent flier programs: 42 per cent.

- APNZ

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