NATURAL DISASTERS and identity theft were cited as the major concerns by Filipino consumers this year, Unisys Corp. said, citing the findings of its study on security concerns.

“For 2020, the top concerns for Filipinos are natural disasters, with 93% of Filipinos seriously concerned about this issue, up from 89% in 2019,” Unisys Asia Director of Security Daphne Chee said in a virtual briefing Wednesday.

“Following that, we see that 92% of Filipinos are concerned about identity theft, up from 90% last year,” she added.

The other issues of concern among Filipinos are personal safety (89%, up 6 percentage points), bank card fraud (88%, up 4 percentage points), hacking/viruses (86%, down 1 percentage point), financial obligations (83%, up 1 percentage point), national security (82%, down 1 percentage point), and online shopping (81%, down 1 percentage point).

Unisys surveyed 1,075 adults between March 16 and April 5 to assess levels of concern over national, personal, financial and Internet security issues. The other countries surveyed were Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Philippine survey was conducted during the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and other parts of the country.

Unisys said the Philippines had a score of 238 this year on the Unisys Security Index, up from 234 a year earlier. The index is on a 300-point scale, with 300 representing the highest level of concerns.

This puts the country at the top of the list of 15 countries surveyed, and 63 points higher than the global average index of 175 in terms of overall security concerns.

“These findings reflect a year where a slew of natural disasters dominated news coverage and personal experience for most Filipinos such as the Mindanao earthquakes, the Taal Volcano eruption, Typhoon Tisoy and most recently the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic,” Ms. Chee said.

“The government’s social distancing and safety measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak were in full swing at the time of the survey. It is no wonder that Filipinos have heightened concern about personal and physical security issues,” she added.

Unisys Asia Pacific Director of Security Services Ashwin Pal said: “Understandably, people are most concerned about their ability to access health services should they or their family require it — and assume their employer would take care of securing data and systems if they are able to continue working from home.”

“As the internet infrastructure in the Philippines improves, making remote working a more common option, employers will need to ensure their people have secure direct access to applications, are trained to identify and avoid malicious scams and phishing attacks designed to exploit the fears and distractions created by events such as the pandemic, and can quickly isolate devices or parts of the network to minimize the extent of a breach — because they will happen,” he added.

Unisys also noted that Filipinos are more willing to use a mobile app that matches their facial image with identity information in a government database to access online government services than online banking services.

“Eight in 10 are willing to use such an app to apply for financial benefits (81%) or renew their driver’s license (80%), whereas only six in 10 are willing to use the app to verify their identity to apply online for a credit card (66%) or home loan (67%). The top reasons given for not being willing to use such an app are concerns around the security of the data collected (51%) and not wanting to share their biometric information (42%),” Unisys said. — Arjay L. Balinbin