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Brits happy to hand over password details for £5 gift voucher

Jail for data breach directors, M&S cake for us

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UK consumers have rather glaring double standards when it comes to information security risks, according to a new survey by Symantec.

Although the majority (60 percent) of 207 London residents were happy to hand over computer password data which might be useful to potential ID thieves in exchange for a £5 M&S gift voucher, the public at large take a hard line on firms who fail to keep tight hold of customer data.

In exchange for the voucher, a number of those quizzed during a street survey in Covent Garden earlier this week went on to explain how they remember their password and which online websites (from a range of email, shopping, banking and social networking sites) they most frequently use. A sizeable chunk of those surveyed (45 per cent) said they used either their birthday, their mother's maiden name or a pet's name as a password.

Perhaps it's just as well that stolen identities are worth a lot less than £5, fetching as little as 50p on the underground black market, according to Symantec.

Hang 'em high

Nine in ten (89 per cent) of 1,000 Brits quizzed during a wider survey, commissioned by Symantec and price comparison site moneysupermarket.com, expressed the opinion that "reckless and repeated" data breaches ought to be punished by criminal prosecutions. Sanctions should include the ability to incarcerate directors of negligent firms in jail. Eight out of ten of those quizzed agreed there should be a "one strike and you’re out" rule for data loss.

Blimey.

Almost four in five of those polled reckon their personal data is not secure in the hands of companies that hold it, a finding that probably stems from the steady drip of data breach stories that have followed from the massive HMRC child benefit lost disc bungle last year. Three in four consumers are concerned about the amount of information organisation hold on them, regardless of whether or not this information is held online or offline. Online payments were perceived as the single greatest risk for losing data.

Despite this, three in four of those surveyed said they were more likely to shop online now then they were six months ago, mainly because it's easier to find bargains on the net. "Consumers are first and foremost concerned about price – and not necessarily for their safety," Symantec notes.

So much for living off the grid.

The government was thought to reckoned to be the worst offender for data loss by half of those surveyed.

Current public sentiment about data loss could have a bad effect on the business of firms unfortunate or incompetent enough to lose data. Symantec also survey businesses as part of its research, and found that three in four (76 per cent) expected to shed customers in the event of a data breach. ®

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