Rochester, N.Y. - Corporate executives worry most about data security and terrorism, according to survey results from Rochester, N.Y.-based Harris Interactive Inc. Harris Interactive asked senior executives of large corporations ($1 billion plus revenue) to share their worries about typical crisis situations. And 61% named compromise of corporate information system one of their biggest worries.Data breaches drew a number of headlines in 2006. Security experts report that high-profile data breaches, growing sophistication among cyber criminals, increased media attention and unprecedented legislative activity have changed perceptions and practices around identity theft in 2006.

"More has changed in the world of data protection and identity theft over the past year than in the prior six or seven years combined," says Troy Allen, chief operating officer in the fraud solutions practice at Kroll Background America Inc., a Nashville, Tenn.-based employment screening company.

Allen, who specializes in data breaches and thefts, attributes the spike in reported data breaches to more use of electronic data in day-to-day business, less expensive data storage options, proliferation of laptop computers and portable memory drives, and weak policies and procedures by businesses.

"No business can survive without customer trust," says Mike Dabadie, division president of the Harris Interactive's Brand and Strategic Consulting practice. "In today's computerized economy, customers trust companies with a lot of sensitive personal and financial information. Any breach of data security that would compromise that trust can have a devastating impact on the company's reputation."

Commenting on the 55% who named terrorism as a major worry, Dabadie says, "The fact that, more than five years after 9/11, more than half of business leaders are still worried about terrorism is a significant finding."

So what are large companies doing about these worries? The Harris poll results show 74% of companies have a crisis management plan in place, and 85% of those companies are satisfied with their plans.

Source: Harris Interactive Inc. and Kroll Background America Inc.


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