LONDON – March 5, 2008 – UK Internet users are putting up to £361 billion1 at risk by sharing personal data on Web sites that are either not secure or poorly protected, according to a YouGov survey published today by VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN), the leading provider of Internet infrastructure for the networked world.
The pan-European survey on consumers' attitudes to online security shows that the average UK consumer is worth £10,077 online. This figure is the total sum of monetary assets available in the average person's online accounts, which could include banking, gaming and shopping accounts.
With 65 percent of respondents sharing personal information with their online bank each week, 58 percent with online retailers and 31 percent with social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, the ability of fraudsters to steal a customer's details and money online has substantially increased. In addition, the personal data we all share – 75 percent of respondents freely giving away their date of birth, 70 percent their home address, and 68 percent their mother's maiden name puts us at risk of having our online identity stolen and used for real-world crime.
Jon Kerr, VeriSign SSL Manager, UK commented, "It's no surprise that online banks and retailers are some of the most popular targets for identity theft since so many personal details are required by users. As online transactions increase, we need to acknowledge the importance of both technology and consumer behaviour in protecting personal details and monetary assets online. With the average UK consumer worth over £10,000 to criminals, it's clear that each of us is a target."
The findings also show there is already a high level of concern about online data security, with 78 percent of those surveyed worried about identity theft. The figures are not surprising when you consider nearly half of the respondents (43 percent) have experienced online identity fraud or know someone that has been a victim.
However, it's not all bad news. Personal experience and consumer education campaigns have been successful in raising awareness of online security with a significant number of those surveyed aware of security symbols such as the padlock (69 percent) or a security mark like the VeriSign® Secured Seal (41 percent), which signify secure Web sites.
Online businesses and technologies are also advancing with more than 2,500 online merchants adopting VeriSign's Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificates, which turn the address bar green and can be seen at first glance, when viewed by users of certain high-security web browsers, making it even simpler for consumers to ascertain that they are viewing a secure site. The "green bar" technology helps to combat e-criminals who use fake sites to illegally capture personal details as it helps assure users that their personal information will only go to their intended bank or retailer.
"Trust is difficult to build but easy to break," continued Kerr. "That's why thousands of domains are now protected with VeriSign EV SSL Certificates. By displaying the green bar to site visitors, online businesses like banks and retailers are communicating that they care enough to provide the most advanced protection available. And in the process, they are protecting the relationship they've built with customers."
¹ This figure was derived by combining the average exposure level for UK citizens as researched by YOUGOV with the current adult Internet connected population of the UK - 32 million.
VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN), operates digital infrastructure services that enable and protect billions of interactions every day across the world's voice, video and data networks. Additional news and information about the company is available at www.verisign.co.uk.
Statements in this announcement other than historical data and information constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause VeriSign's actual results to differ materially from those stated or implied by such forward-looking statements. The potential risks and uncertainties include, among others, the uncertainty of future revenue and profitability and potential fluctuations in quarterly operating results due to such factors as the inability of VeriSign to successfully develop and market new products and services and customer acceptance of any new products or services, including VeriSign's Extended Validation SSL Certificates and solutions, the possibility that VeriSign's announced new services may not result in additional customers, profits or revenues; and increased competition and pricing pressures. More information about potential factors that could affect the company's business and financial results is included in VeriSign's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including in the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006 and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. VeriSign undertakes no obligation to update any of the forward-looking statements after the date of this press release.
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