DATA BREACHES continue to be a major concern for Filipino consumers this year, a recent report on Philippine businesses and government agencies by Unisys Corp. found.

The United States-based company said the Philippines had an index of 234 this year in the Unisys Security Index from 232 last year. The index is out of a 300-point scale, where 300 represents the highest level of concern.

This puts the country at the top of the list of 13 countries surveyed, and 59 points higher than the global average index of 175 in terms of overall security concern.

“[I]n a warning to Philippine businesses and government agencies, the new research from Unisys Corp. finds that data security dominates consumers‘ concerns and that many Filipinos actively respond after a data breach by closing accounts, taking legal action and using social media to expose the issue,” it said in a statement on the report released Tuesday.

Unisys surveyed 1,079 adults in the country from Feb. 27 to Mar. 22 to assess the country’s level of concern on national, personal, financial and internet security issues. The other countries it covered were Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States.

Specific to data security, the report found that 90% of Filipinos are “seriously concerned” on breaches that expose personal information, 87% have the same level of concern on internet hacking and obtaining viruses, and 84% flag the same concern on bank card fraud.

This concern is not coming from empty worrying and speculation, as the report also said 36% of Filipinos reported data breaches in 2018, most of which were in the nature of email hacking, social engineering scams and social media profile hacking.

Unisys said the increasing concern of Filipinos on data security not only impacts consumers but also businesses, as fingers are pointed on the holder of information for incidences of data breach.

“Consumers hold the business or government agency responsible for not protecting their data, and many Filipinos are taking action,” Unisys Director of Security Services for Asia Pacific Ashwin Pal said.

He said 24% of those that reported data breaches last year took legal action against the company or organization involved, 21% stopped engaging with it and 18% took their stories to social media.

“This results in customer loss, reputation damage, legal disputes and inhibits take-up of online or digital services,” Mr. Pal added.

With this, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) said it feels burdened to lead the country in protecting Filipino citizens’ data in the cyberspace.

Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Rey R. Caintic of the DICT said in the statement the government is bent on initiating data safeguarding efforts, such as protecting critical infrastructure, forming a National Computer Emergency Response Team, and protecting government information systems and children on the internet.

“We are set to rollout the cybersecurity management system to more government agencies by 2021. Complementing this initiative, we are engaging schools to educate and train the youth on the latest trends and issues on cybersecurity,” he was quoted as saying. — Denise A. Valdez