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UK citizens place greater trust in banks and financial institutions to protect their personal data than the National Health Service (NHS) and the central government. That is according to the findings from an annual survey.

According to Unisys, who are behind the Unisys Security Index, the findings may raise concerns for the Government ahead of the autumn launch of Care.data , the NHS’s national health database.

The most recent index asked UK respondents to select three types of organisation they most trust with their personal data from a list including financial institutions, the NHS, employers, central government, private companies and service providers. The largest percentage (53 per cent) of respondents selected financial institutions. The NHS was the second most trusted of the organisations listed, cited by 50 percent of respondents.

Among lesser trusted organisations cited by the UK respondents are employers (44 per cent), central government (31 per cent) and private companies (23 per cent). Service providers such as broadband, TV or telephone providers are seen as trustworthy by only 16 per cent of those surveyed. A significant 15 per cent of the population said they do not trust any of the listed organisations with their data.

The survey suggested varying levels of trust in the NHS from different generations, with only 44 per cent of UK respondents over 50 reporting that they trust the NHS with their personal data, in contrast to 55 per cent of 18 to 49 year olds. The proposed roll-out of Care.data, designed to hold NHS patients’ digital medical records for the care and health services, was delayed earlier this year due to public confusion.

Dr Gerhard Knecht, Head of Global Security Services and Compliance, Unisys Enterprise Services, says: “The NHS has work to do in reassuring a large part of the population that it can safely handle their personal data. We believe the government must focus on educating the public on how their data will be treated and what security measures will be taken before its second attempt to launch the programme.”

Only 27.7 per cent of UK respondents over the age of 65 listed central government as one of their most trusted organisations, compared to 39 per cent of 25 to 34 year olds. Gerhard Knecht adds: “Despite widespread acknowledgement that the current government has favoured older generations with its policies, the coalition clearly has more work to do in convincing old people of the benefits of its Digital Strategy , which was introduced well over two years ago in the 2012 budget.”

North and South

The research also suggests northerners are less trusting than southerners when it comes to personal data, with seven per cent more respondents from the north claiming they don’t trust any of the organisations listed in the survey. This divide is particularly apparent in their respective views on private companies, with just 20 per cent of northerners placing trust in them, compared to 29 per cent of southerners.

Concerns

The results also show Brits are more worried about personal security than financial, Internet or national security threats. More than half of respondents harbour concerns over identity theft and misuse of personal information. Financial security is the second greatest area of concern, with just under half (48 per cent) of those surveyed expressing serious concern about other people obtaining and using their credit or debit card details.

The overall index for Britain has dropped considerably from 2013, with a significant drop in the national security index score contributing the most to this decline. The national security index score for the UK has dropped 48 points, from 130 in 2013, to just 82 in 2014. Despite 2013 being widely acknowledged as a bumper year for data breaches , less than a third (30 per cent) of Brits surveyed are seriously concerned about computer security in relation to viruses or spam.

About the index

Lieberman Research Group conducted the survey in Latin America, Europe, Malaysia and the US; Newspoll conducted the research in Australia and New Zealand. The Unisys Security Index surveys nearly 11,000 people in 12 countries: Australia, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Visit www.unisyssecurityindex.com


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