Cyber Security Industry Alliance Newsletter •  Volume 2, Number 9 • May 2006

Executive Director’s Message

The results of CSIA's third survey on Information Security shows Americans’ lack of confidence in the Internet has both political and economic consequences. The third CSIA Digital Confidence Index reading remains at a failing grade: 57 on a 100-point scale, a one-point decrease from November 2005.

While data security alone won’t be a deciding factor in an election, the survey does reveal that voters have serious doubts about candidates opposed to strong data security laws. Consumers are beginning to understand the link between their privacy and data security and they are looking to their government leaders for action.

Of the 1150 adults involved in the survey, fewer than one in five feel that existing laws are enough to protect them on the Internet. Moreover, they express a clear preference for strong federal data security legislation, even when presented with the argument that it will result in unwanted notices and higher price:

  • 70 percent of likely voters agreed that Congress should pass a strong data security law.

  • Nearly half (46 percent) of likely voters who think that Congress should pass a strong data security law report that they would have serious doubts about a candidate that opposes swift action.

  • The survey also revealed little difference between Republicans and Democrats on cyber security policy issues.

The Digital Confidence Index (DCI) is a measurement we designed to be taken over time as a measure how economic, government or natural events impact the confidence of Americans in nation’s information infrastructure. It’s lack of improvement suggests a lack of consumer confidence that continues to manifest itself through possible economic losses:

  • Only 44 percent of Americans feel their information is safe when engaging in e-commerce and 50 percent avoid making purchases online because they are afraid their financial information will be stolen.

  • Only a third (34 percent) of Americans feel that banking online is as safe as banking in person

  • 94 percent of Americans feel that identity theft is a serious problem

  • Only24 percent of Americans say that businesses are placing the right emphasis on protecting information systems and networks

The significance of this survey is simple: there are consequences to continued inaction. Half of Americans are too afraid to shop online because they just aren’t confident that they are protected.

Things are not getting better on their own. If we cannot create a trusted digital environment, it won’t just impact e-business, it will impact all business because nearly every company assumes continued growth in the acceptance and usage of our digital networks. A loss of consumer confidence is a billion dollar problem.

CSIA is the only organization taking the nation's pulse on these important economic and, now, political issues. We encourage Congress to respond - this year - with a comprehensive national data security law that establishes reasonable security measures, creates a consistent and recognizable notification standard, encourages best practices such as encryption, and includes effective enforcement. And we strongly urge the Department of Homeland Security to fill the Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Telecommunications position, which has been vacant for more than a year.

We recognize these issues must be addressed with a coordinated approach that incorporates industry, government, consumer groups, and the Congress. To assist in this mission, CSIA welcomes Liz Gasster, our new General Counsel. Liz's strong background in corporate management and her sophisticated understanding of emerging technologies, combined with her strength in policy and strategic development, make her an ideal contributor to achieving our vision of a cyber secure world.

With legislation on data security once again moving on Capitol Hill, we’re all expecting a busy summer.