Germans untroubled by cyber-espionage

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People in Germany are not overly concerned about hacker attacks and cyber-espionage. Despite the many reports of hacker attacks, stolen login data and NSA listening activities, people are relatively untroubled by the risks of cyber-criminality. These are the findings of the 2015 Security Report (Geman only), which was conducted on behalf of Deutsche Telekom by the Allensbach Institute and the Centre for Strategy and Higher Leadership.

With regard to data fraud on the Internet, 28 percent of the population have major concerns, between 2011 and 2014 the percentage ranged between 27 and 31 percent. Also concerns about abuse of personal data by companies or users in social networks are on the lower range of the values measured. In terms of computer viruses today 21 percent of respondents see a risk, which is scarcely higher than one to two years ago. One surprise is that the concern that other nations such as the U.S. or China can monitor the Internet and phone connections of German citizens fell from 19 to 15 percent compared to last year. However, when asked what risks will increase in the future, 70 percent of those surveyed listed abuse of personal data by companies as well as data fraud.

This finding appears to be a contradiction: On the one hand, the population recognizes the risks and believes that they will continue to grow in the future. On the other hand, the personal impact and concern is not increasing, rather it is decreasing. The Allensbach pollsters explain these apparently contradictory results by the general indifference in society at large toward this growing problem, in part due to a lack of information but also because people have grown accustomed to it and a certain fatalism has set in, alongside the sense that they are not personally affected.

Germans feel safer

This is the fifth consecutive year that Deutsche Telekom has published the Security Report and the pollsters were able to compare the results with previous surveys. According to the survey, people in Germany feel more secure than the previous year. The risk index calculated on the basis of the representative survey fell slightly from 499 to 490 index points. Only the concern about terror attacks rose significantly. In 2014, some 17 percent of respondents listed a terror attack as a high risk, while in 2015 some 28 percent cited this as a major concern.

In the future, the population expects a (considerable) increase in risk levels in some areas, but in others they expect little change or partially even a declining risk situation. Areas where people believe risk will increase significantly include:

  • Age risks such as poverty in old age and the need for long-term care
  • Data protection and data fraud
  • Natural disasters
  • Terror attacks

Some two thirds or more of the Germans surveyed see a growing risk potential in these areas. 80 percent of the population believes that the risk of poverty in old age will increase in the future. 74 percent expect the need for long-term care in old age and dementia cases to increase as risks in Germany. Already in the next position, the abuse of personal data by companies is ranked with 70 percent, as well as data fraud, with 68 percent.

Deutsche Telekom – a trustworthy company

When it comes to companies in the communication and Internet sectors that handle personal data, people place by far the most trust in Deutsche Telekom. 46 percent regard the company as trustworthy. Deutsche Telekom thus has almost twice the lead over the next-closest companies (24 percent).

The Allensbach Institute conducted almost 1,400 surveys for the 2015 Security Report from the start of the year to mid-June, using a representative cross-section of the population from age 16 and older.