Australians think they're better at protecting personal data than they are

The majority of Australian shoppers are aware of the recent data breaches that struck major retailers around the world this year, but a new survey has found that few have changed their own behaviour around the protection of their retail-related private information.

Fully 84 percent of respondents to the 2014 ISACA IT Risk/Reward Barometer – conducted by peak IT-security body ISACA and including responses from 1646 ISACA members and 4000 consumers in four countries – said they had heard about the breaches of companies like Home Depot and Target.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they had adopted a 'take-charge' approach to protecting the privacy of the data on their devices. When pressed about this approach, however, a much smaller proportion of respondents said they had taken proactive steps to improve their security.

Only 45 percent had changed an online password or PIN, for example, while just 15 percent had reduced the number of online purchases they made using mobile devices. Only 10 percent said they had stopped shopping as frequently at retailers that had experienced data breaches.

ISACA international president Robert Stroud said in a statement that the results confirmed “the gap between people's concerns about protecting their data privacy and security versus the actions they take,” adding that businesses need to “aggressively” educate customer and employees to assist with reducing the risk of data breaches.

This need had increased even further as consumers became increasingly invested in wearable technologies that promised entirely new security compromises: with 64 percent of respondents expected to have connected devices on their Christmas lists, the ISACA survey reinforced concerns that users won't do enough to protect the data those devices generate.

The security of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) has been a recurring concern for security experts like ESET research fellow Peter Ko?in?r, who warned the audience at this week's AVAR conference that unpatched vulnerabilities in common consumer products were prompting hackers to redouble their efforts to compromise and control those products.

Their popularity with younger users was likely to compound the security risk they present, according to Sydney-based ISACA International vice president Garry Barnes.

“Across Australia, the results suggest that Millennials, having grown up with technology may be more trusting and accepting or have an ‘it won’t happen to me’ approach,” he said in a statement. “Baby Boomers are skeptical and perhaps more vigilant regarding their personal online security.”

Baby Boomers were more likely to have changed their passwords (46 percent) than 18-24 year olds (39 percent), according to the survey, which also identified broad concern amongst respondents about IoT devices. Some 28 percent of respondents said they were concerned about someone hacking into an IoT device and doing something malicious, while 26 percent were concerned that they didn't know how the information collected by the devices would be used.

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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