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Majority of U.S. Adults Believe They Are More Susceptible to Identity Theft During the Holiday Season


Online Retailers and Financial Institutions Take Note -- Survey Reveals Many U.S. Adults Say They are Likely to Take Their Business Elsewhere if Their Personal Data is Compromised

Menlo Park, Calif., Nov. 22, 2005 -- Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ: SUNW) today released findings from a recent survey conducted on its behalf by Harris Interactive(R) that examined consumer views on holiday online shopping and online banking. The nationwide survey of more than 2,000 American adults revealed that one in three adults have been a victim of identity theft or know someone who has been victimized and a majority say they are likely to stop shopping and banking with institutions that put their personal data at risk.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. online adults plan to shop online this holiday season. Americans are, however, taking notice of how banking institutions and retailers treat their personal data and will hold them culpable if their data is compromised.

“Not only will data breaches at online retailers and financial institutions result in bad publicity, but the survey results suggest they’ll also result in lost revenues and lost customers,” said Sara Gates, vice president of Identity Management at Sun Microsystems. “And as guidelines and legislation around customer notification continue to get implemented, we think more and more customers will demand that the companies they choose to do business with have a method of securing their personal information.”

Identity Theft and Holiday Shopping

34% of U.S. adults have either been a victim of identity theft or know someone who has been victimized.
44% of U.S. adults think that most people who are victims of identity theft were careless with their personal information.
83% of U.S. adults think people are more susceptible to identity theft around the holiday season.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of U.S. adults who are online plan to shop online this holiday season - with 14% planning to do more than half of their holiday shopping online.
Retailers and Financial Institutions

Two-thirds (67%) of U.S. adults who are online are either likely or very likely to stop shopping at an online store if notified that their personal information was compromised.
Another 22% are somewhat likely to stop shopping at an online retailer if notified that their personal data was compromised.
One in two (50%) U.S. adults is either likely or very likely to switch their financial accounts to another institution if notified by a financial services firm that their personal data had been compromised.
Another 30% say they are somewhat likely to move their banking to another company if their personal data was compromised.
Among U.S. adults who have online accounts with financial institutions, nearly two in three (65%) change their password once a year or less often.
“It’s heartening to see that overall awareness of identity theft is quite high and that many Americans are taking basic steps to protect themselves,” said Gates. “Consumers should continue to step up their vigilance in 2006 by only giving their Social Security Number to trusted parties and they should shred all discarded documents with personal data on them. However, companies also need to mitigate the threat of identity theft by taking all possible steps to ensure the security of their corporate data.”

Sun Microsystems offers a complete identity management software portfolio, which helps companies protect sensitive data, while keeping costs under control. For retailers, Sun identity management software helps to provide rapid system and information access for seasonal employees hired for the holiday season. For banking and financial institutions, identity management software from Sun can help manage customer information to help minimize identity theft and fraud from insider attack.

Survey Methodology

Harris Interactive(R) fielded the online survey on behalf of Sun Microsystems between November 1 and 3, 2005 among a nationwide sample of 2,062 U.S. adults. The data resulting from questions not related to the Internet or to online behavior have been weighted to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity and propensity to be online. The data from questions related to the Internet or related to online behavior have been weighted to reflect the total U.S. adult online population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income and race/ethnicity. Data from these questions were NOT propensity weighted. In theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with 95% certainty that the overall results have a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Sampling error for sub-sample percentages will be higher. This online sample is not a probability sample.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive Inc. (, based in Rochester, New York, is the 13th largest and the fastest-growing market research firm in the world, most widely known for The Harris Poll(R) and for its pioneering leadership in the online market research industry. Long recognized by its clients for delivering insights that enable confident business decisions, the Company blends the science of innovative research with the art of strategic consulting to deliver knowledge that leads to measurable and enduring value. Harris Interactive serves clients worldwide through its United States, Europe ( and Asia offices, its wholly-owned subsidiary Novatris in Paris, France (, and through an independent global network of affiliate market research companies.

About Sun Microsystems, Inc.

A singular vision -- “The Network Is The Computer” -- guides Sun in the development of technologies that power the world’s most important markets. Sun’s philosophy of sharing innovation and building communities is at the forefront of the next wave of computing: the Participation Age. Sun can be found in more than 100 countries and on the Web at

Sun, Sun Microsystems, the Sun logo, and The Network Is The Computer are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries.


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