Most Americans are willing to forego personal data privacy to combat the spread of COVID-19


A KPMG survey also found that baby boomers were more to allow employers to take their temperature, compared to Gen X and millennials.


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Three in four Americans (75%) are thinking more about data privacy issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic, yet most are willing to share their personal information to keep others safe and to return to work faster, according to a newly-released pulse survey of 1,000 workers by KPMG.

The survey revealed that a significant number–89% of Americans–would allow places/employers to take their temperature to help keep people safe; 85% said would share their COVID-19 diagnosis with their employer to get back to work more quickly.

Additionally, 67% of Americans said they would share their lifestyle information (specifically, what could contribute to COVID-19 exposure) with their employer to help get back to work faster. And 67% also said they would share their personal location data if it could help the country track COVID-19 cases.

While consumer data privacy was a hot topic long before the global pandemic, the current situation has opened the door for conversation around how data can be used to keep people safe, KPMG said. As businesses reopen, leaders will need to think through their approaches to protecting the increasing amount of personal data being collected.

Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic Premium)

With a U.S. unemployment rate of 13.3% in May, it is no surprise that Americans are willing to forgo personal data if it means getting back to work more quickly, the firm said.

However, the survey found a notable difference between younger and older workers’ sentiments on return to work strategies. For example, 94% of baby boomers said they would definitely or maybe have their temperatures taken compared with 87% of millennials.

KPMG said it is also hearing from clients that older workers are more inclined than younger workers to share their personal data and participate in these return-to-work strategies.

“As organizations reopen, executives will face the challenge of rolling out strategies, policies and technologies that match the expectations of their unique workforce,” said Steve Stein, principal, and co-lead of KPMG Privacy Services, in a statement. “While there is no one size fits all approach, it is imperative that organizations design solutions that account for short term and longer term implications of what data is collected, how it is used, and how it is protected–whether that’s through the design of health data polling, more comprehensive testing, or more comprehensive contact tracing.”

Regulatory considerations

Beyond sentiment and consent, while designing technology-based solutions, organizations will also need to consider several existing policies, laws, and regulations such as those related to health data, and OSHA guidance, among others, the firm noted.

For example, is the back-to-work solution compliant with legislation such as the American Disabilities Act Title II requirements relating to website and app accessibility?

Ultimately, organizations need to consider the potential disparate impact of back-to-work policies on a diverse workforce, KPMG said.

“COVID-19 is creating a new wave of data privacy considerations for US organizations–who largely have had limited experience with these issues,” said Orson Lucas, principal, and co-lead of KPMG Privacy Services, in a statement. “Executives will need to right-size and mature privacy programs to help organizations today and in the future, because privacy issues are being amplified as a result of COVID-19.”

KPMG recently launched a Restarting America framework to help organizations safely reopen workplaces.

The findings in this report are based on the results of a survey of 1,000 respondents in the US between May 19, 2020 and May 21, 2020.

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Only 31% of Americans concerned with data security, despite 400% rise in cyberattacks


Bad actors have flooded the enterprise with coronavirus-related attacks, but professionals working from home have other worries, Unisys Security found.

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Less than one-third (31%) of Americans said they are concerned about their data security while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Unisys Security report found. Overall concerns around internet security, including computer viruses and hacking, have dropped since 2019, ranking the lowest among the four primary areas of security in the survey. 

These findings are particularly concerning given the rise in cyberattacks during the pandemic: The FBI found that online crimes reported to the Bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) have increased by 400% because of the crisis. The Federal Trade Commision (FTC) also found more than 52,000 cases of reported fraud related to COVID-19 since January 2020.

SEE: Security Awareness and Training policy (TechRepublic Premium)

The Unisys Security Index, released on Tuesday, calculates a score out of 300 that measures consumer attitudes over eight areas of security in four categories. The eight areas include national security, disaster/epidemic, bankcard fraud, financial obligations, virus/hacking, online transactions, identity theft, and personal safety. 

The four broader categories consist of national security, financial security, internet security, and personal security. The index score remained at the historical high it found last year of 175, but with the global pandemic, the makeup of this score looks a bit different. 

Biggest consumer concerns 

With the report being conducted at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, concerns around health, safety, and economic stability naturally rose. 

Concerns about disasters and epidemics have jumped to the top three areas of concern, at 62%. Personal safety saw the largest increase, with 58% reportedly seriously concerned. Worries surrounding the other six security areas have fallen, including those related to internet security. 

While reliance on the internet has increased dramatically during COVID-19, the majority of Americans (70%) said they are not concerned about the risk of being scammed. Americans were 24% less likely to report a concern about a data breach during the pandemic compared to the global average, the report found. 

Only 45% of respondents said they are concerned about the risk of being scammed during the health crisis, which is particularly worrisome given that 98% of cyberattacks are deployed by social engineering methods like phishing, which can be particularly difficult to detect.

“It’s not surprising to see people’s level of concern for their personal safety jump in light of the global health crisis. However, the fact that it is not only matched by, but exceeded by, a drop in concerns around hacking, scamming or online fraud reflects a false sense of consumer security,” said Unisys chief information security officer Mat Newfield, in a press release.

“Hackers target healthcare and essential services organizations looking to steal intellectual property and intelligence, such as details on national health policies and COVID-19 research,” Newfield said. “And hackers are relying on tricks like ‘password spraying,’ which involves an attacker repeatedly using common passwords on many accounts to gain access, putting our most critical infrastructures at risk potentially from the click of a single working-from-home employee.”

Looking at concerns across the globe, the report found that since 2019 the majority of regions including the Philippines, Chile, Australia, the UK, New Zealand, and Germany have seen rising worries regarding personal security, such as identity theft and personal safety. 

The areas that have had growing national security concerns include Mexico, Chile, Brazil, the UK, and Australia, the report found. 

Across the board, nearly all surveyed regions including Mexico, the US, Australia, the UK, Belgium, New Zealand, Germany, and the Netherlands had decreasing levels of concern around internet security. 

“This underscores the need for businesses to ensure they are placing a clear and concerted emphasis on proper training for their employees working from home and adopting a Zero Trust security architecture that leverages best practices like encryption and microsegmentation,” Newfield said. 

How to prioritize security 

The report recommended taking three key steps to bolstering security in your organization. 

1. Adapt security measures for remote employees

The report urged organizations to make it easier for their remote workers to connect securely. It recommended supplying work from home (WFH) employees with updated VPN connections and more zero trust technology, including always-on encrypted direct access, identity verification tools, and a software-defined perimeter to limit damage from prospective malware attacks. 

2. Keep in mind the human side of the employee experience 

With all of the chaos of moving teams remote, many organizations can forget to consider the toll this is personally taking on workers. The report recommended staying connected with employees by establishing regular check-ins, virtual lunches, or other tactics that priotizie their well-being when working from home. 

3. Utilize emerging tech

Working from home opens up employee laptops and hardware to a slew of new risks, particularly unauthorized access from outside individuals. 

The report recommended companies equip employees with more security controls such as multifactor authentication or biometric logins to make accessing the devices more protected. 

For more, check out 
Sharp drop in overall security spending forecast from Gartner due to COVID-19

on TechRepublic.

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