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Unisys Research Shows Majority of Consumers Worldwide Trust Biometrics for Data Protection


Unisys Security Index also finds bank card fraud and ID theft remain top consumer fears; global study shows striking geographic differences on security concerns

BLUE BELL, Pa. – More than two-thirds (67 percent) of consumers surveyed around the world trust fingerprint scans to verify their identities with banks, government agencies and other organizations, according to new research conducted by Unisys Corporation. In fact, only personal passwords rank higher as the preferred identification method, and by a mere 1 percent more than fingerprint scans.

Additional results of Unisys biometric survey shows that:

* Fingerprint scans rank far higher in consumer trust than lesser known biometric solutions such as facial scans (44 percent of consumers said they are comfortable with this method) and scan of blood vessels in the hand (38 percent).
* Consumers in Malaysia, Australia and the U.K. are the most accepting of all biometric methods studied in the research. Consumers in these three countries are also more accepting of identification methods that are generally unpopular in other parts of the world.
* Hong Kong residents distrust many methods of authentication, including PINs and personal passwords, but are most accepting of fingerprints as an authentication method.

The biometrics survey was conducted alongside the latest installment of the Unisys Security Index, which also found that bank card fraud and identity theft remain top concerns by the majority of consumers worldwide. Worry about the fraudulent use of credit or debit cards ranked the number one or two highest concern in 11 of 13 countries surveyed. Identity theft ranked as first or second highest concern in ten countries.

“Fears about fraud and ID theft clearly aren’t going away. Adoption of biometric ID verification is one solution where we see widespread consumer support, although many organizations have yet to embrace this technology as an effective way to protect data and identities,” said Terry Hartmann, vice president of the global identity and credentialing practice at Unisys. “What’s interesting is the data’s strong evidence that the more familiar people become with biometrics, the greater the ease and acceptance. Our research found higher trust levels in regions where governments and other organizations already embrace biometrics such as Malaysia and Australia, and in the U.K. where the issue is now getting strong market exposure with a proposed national ID card.”

The Unisys Security Index is a biannual study that gauges consumers’ views about key security issues. More than 12,000 people around the world respond to questions relating to four areas of security: financial, national, Internet and personal safety. The results are tallied on a scale from 0-300, with 300 representing the highest level of perceived concern. Each survey also includes supplemental research on a security niche topic such as the current data on biometric authentication methods.

The average global score for the current Unisys Security Index was 130, indicating moderate security fears overall across the world. The score, however, also masks some interesting geographic differences and higher concerns in specific geographic areas. For example, regionally, the Index points to Brazil, Hong Kong, and Malaysia as areas where consumers express the most anxiety about specific security topics, while four European Union countries — the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Italy — all show lower security concerns overall.

Additional results include:

* Brazil and Hong Kong residents are the most concerned about security issues, at 182 and 178 respectively, which is more than double the fears in the Netherlands (at 87).
* Spain shows the most dramatic increase in security concern from the August 2007 baseline global survey, rising 23 points overall.
* The largest change from the baseline global survey was in Belgium where lower consumer concerns saw a drop in 35 points. The Unisys Security Index in Australia fell 32 points.
* Residents in France and the Netherlands have very low fears about their personal safety, ranking only 38 and 37 respectively for this area in the Index.
* Germans are most concerned with ID theft, surpassing Hong Kong (second-highest) by a single point. ID theft is of least concern in Italy.
* France is the least concerned about the ability to meet financial obligations, while Hong Kong is the most concerned.
* Internet security remains a lower fear overall as compared to other areas studied; however, 4 out of 6 European countries polled showed an increase in concern compared to prior studies.
* Perhaps not surprisingly given memories of the SARS outbreak, Hong Kong consumers have very high concern about epidemics; however, Brazilians also rank their concern higher here.

“It is important for global companies to learn from these differences when developing security solutions that maintain customer trust,” said Hartmann. “Moreover, risk management only gets more challenging with the current financial crisis and the interdependencies of the global economy. Cybercriminals can exploit what could be weaker oversight and customer service at companies and banks due to market upheaval. We foresee a rise in fraud if companies aren’t careful about both internal controls and IT investments. They need solutions that deploy leading edge technology like biometrics but at the same time have a well-defined plan for best practices and stringent policies and procedures.”

The current biometrics data supports results of similar research that Unisys conducted in 2006 which also found that a majority of consumers worldwide support biometrics for identity authentication. Unisys has deep domain knowledge in security issues and is a worldwide leader in integrating biometric technologies. From the Ports of Los Angeles and Halifax and 29 Canadian airports under the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, to passports and IDs for citizens issued by the Australian and Malaysian governments, Unisys biometric authentication solutions help governments and organizations create and maintain secure business operations.

About the Unisys Security Index
The Unisys Security Index is a biannual global study that provides insights into the attitudes of consumers on a wide range of security related issues. Lieberman Research Group conducted the survey in Brazil, Europe and the U.S.; Newspoll conducted the research in Asia-Pacific. The Unisys Security Index surveys more than 12,000 people in 13 countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Holland, Hong Kong, Italy, New Zealand, Malaysia, Spain, the United Kingdom and United States. The study measures consumer perceptions on a scale of zero to 300, with 300 representing the highest level of perceived concern. For more information, visit

Unisys is a worldwide information technology services and solutions company. We provide consulting, systems integration, outsourcing and infrastructure services, combined with powerful enterprise server technology. We specialize in helping clients use information to create efficient, secure business operations that allow them to achieve their business goals. Our consultants and industry experts work with clients to understand their business challenges and create greater visibility into critical linkages throughout their operations. For more information, visit


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