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The risk of identity theft is a serious concern for users of internet services, with 70 per cent of adults saying it has changed their online behaviour.

This is one of the findings of a new survey which interviewed 2,000 people across the UK about online security. Almost two thirds of those spoken to said they believed organisations should take more responsibility for protecting their personal details online.

Out of all online service providers, banks are trusted the most (60 per cent), then credit card companies (40 per cent), governments (25 per cent), online retailers (19 per cent) and ISPs (eight per cent).

Seventy-one per cent of respondents based their level of trust on the reputation of the organisation, while 69 per cent took reassurance from the security certificates displayed on websites. The survey was carried out by YouGov on behalf of IT management company CA.

Discussing the results of the survey with ENN, CA's vice president for security strategy Simon Perry said hackers are increasingly turning their attention to the databases of customer information held by large companies such as Amazon.

"If you were an attacker, would you prefer to send out a million spam emails and get a one per cent response, or would you rather break in to a company database that already holds millions of customer records?" he said.

A similar survey to the YouGov poll carried out in Ireland last year by Behaviour and Attitudes on behalf of CA revealed that only 17 per cent of Irish internet users believed that the companies and banks they transacted with online were doing enough to protect them from personal identity theft.

Perry says there are a number of actions that need to be taken to increase consumers' confidence in companies' online operations.

"An area which needs urgent attention is breach notification laws. In the US, consumers are notified as soon as there has been a data breach relating to their personal details and this places an additional mandated obligation for organisations to not only do everything in their power to minimise online fraud, but also demonstrate transparency in their execution of their efforts. This requirement currently doesn't exist in the UK or Ireland."

Perry also believes that there are other subtle methods of increasing consumer confidence, such as writing "privacy statements" in plain English instead of legal jargon and doing as much as possible to make customers aware of the steps being taken to protect their data.

© 2007 ENN

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