Report: Natural disasters push PH security concerns to world’s highest

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Local concerns about personal security and natural disasters have put the Philippines on top of the world in terms of consumer security concerns, according to the new 2020 Unisys Security Index.

The study measures concerns of consumers on issues related to national, personal, financial, and Internet security and is said to be the longest-running snapshot of consumer security concerns conducted globally.

The overall measure of security concerns of the Philippine public is 238 out of 300, remaining the highest of the 15 countries polled in the survey and up from 234 in 2019.

In 2020, the top concern for Filipinos is a natural disaster such as floods, typhoons, volcanic eruptions or epidemics with 93% of Filipinos seriously concerned about this issue, up from 89% in 2019. Concern about personal safety in the next six months recorded the greatest change in the last year, up six percentage points to 89%, and 92% of people are concerned about identity theft.

Overall, Filipino women are more concerned about the security issues tracked in the study, with a Unisys Security Index of 244 for women compared to 233 for men – 11 points higher. In particular, women are significantly more concerned about the security of online transactions and the threat of war or terrorism (9% more women are seriously concerned about both these issues than men). Older Filipinos aged 45-55 years is the age group with the highest level of concern.

“These findings reflect a year where a slew of natural disasters dominated news coverage and personal experience for most Filipinos such as the Mindanao earthquakes, Taal Volcano eruption and ash cloud, Typhoon Tisoy and most recently the Covid-19 global pandemic. The government’s social distancing and safety measures in response to the Covid-19 outbreak were in full swing at the time of the survey. It is no wonder that Filipinos have heightened concern about personal and physical security issues,” said Daphne Chee, director of security at Unisys Asia.

This year, the Unisys Security Index also explored the impact of the Covid-19 global pandemic on the Philippine public. Filipinos are most concerned about basic health needs with nine in 10 seriously concerned about the physical health of their family (96%), their own health (91%) and the stability of the nation’s health infrastructure (90%).

They are slightly less concerned about their personal financial security, the nation’s economy, or their job security. However, women are more concerned about these issues in particular. Filipinos are least concerned about the risk of a data security breach while working remotely.

“Understandably, people are most concerned about their ability to access health services should they or their family require it – and assume their employer would take care of securing data and systems if they are able to continue working from home,” said Ashwin Pal, director of security services at Unisys Asia Pacific.

“As the Internet infrastructure in the Philippines improves, making remote working a more common option, employers will need to ensure their people have secure direct access to applications, are trained to identify and avoid malicious scams and phishing attacks designed to exploit the fears and distractions created by events such as the pandemic and can quickly isolate devices or parts of the network to minimize the extent of a breach – because they will happen.”

The survey also found that Filipinos are more willing to use a mobile app that matches their facial image with identity information in a government database to access online government services than online banking services.

Eight in 10 are willing to use such an app to apply for financial benefits (81%) or renew their driver’s license (80%), whereas only six in ten are willing to use the app to verify their identity to apply online for a credit card (66%) or home loan (67%). The top reasons given for not being willing to use such an app are concerns around the security of the data collected (51%) and not wanting to share their biometric information (42%).

“These results show that the government has attained a higher level of trust than banks. To gain greater acceptance for such identity verification tools, organizations need to be transparent about how and why data will be collected, who has access to it and how it will be secured,” Pal said.

“Overall, consumers in the Philippines and India are more willing to use a mobile digital identity verification app than people in Australia, New Zealand, or Singapore. This is possibly because they want to cut red tape and see secure online services as being more efficient than the current predominantly manual paper or in-person processes.”

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