TORONTO—A majority of Canadians believe their personal and confidential information held by all levels of government is vulnerable to a security breach, whether it’s an unauthorized internal access or an external data hack and theft, according to results of a survey conducted on behalf of Accenture.
Specifically, 54 per cent of Canadians believe that personal information held by the federal government is vulnerable to a security breach—with 20 per cent saying they are “very vulnerable” and 33 per cent saying they are “somewhat vulnerable,” according to the results of the survey by Ipsos.
“We are in a new digital age, where it is difficult to understand who has our personal and confidential information and how it is stored or protected,” said Dave Telka, Canadian Federal Digital lead for Accenture. “The majority of Canadians—across all demographics and regions of the country—feel that they can’t trust the public sector to hold their information securely. Given that there is an ever-increasing demand for digital services from government because of the strong benefits to society, it’s clear that more work must be done to communicate today’s cyber security challenges, how governments are confronting them, and the role of both citizens and governments to keep information safe.”
Survey results form the basis of the Accenture Cyber Vulnerability Index, which measures the confidence Canadians have in various levels of government and institutions to keep private information secure and identifies those most concerned with their data being vulnerable to unauthorized access, a hack or theft.
Overall, 62 per cent of Albertans report feeling vulnerable to data security breaches, more than all other Canadians, followed by those from British Columbia (58 per cent), Ontario (55 per cent), and Atlantic Canada (53 per cent), with Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba tied for last place (49 per cent).
The survey assessed various levels of government and types of government institutions, as well as related entities. The findings indicated:
• Canadians are least likely to trust the safety of their own information with their municipal government, with more than half (56 per cent) believing that their personal data—including information regarding property tax, water/sewage and traffic fines—is vulnerable to threats. Those most likely to feel vulnerable keeping their data with their municipal government are from Alberta (63 per cent) followed by those from British Columbia (62 per cent), Ontario (57 per cent), Saskatchewan/Manitoba (55 per cent), Atlantic Canada (53 per cent) and Quebec (51 per cent).
• More than half (55 per cent) of respondents said that entities at the provincial level of government—which store confidential data for drivers’ licenses, health cards and birth certificates—are vulnerable to data security breaches. Those most likely to perceive their provincially held data as being vulnerable are Albertans (65 per cent), followed by those in British Columbia (59 per cent), Atlantic Canada (56 per cent), Ontario (55 per cent), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (both at 49 per cent) and Quebec (48 per cent).
• When sharing their personal, confidential data with the federal government—for anything from taxes to SIN cards to passport renewals, 54 per cent of Canadians feel their own data is vulnerable to a security breach. Those most likely to feel vulnerable are Albertans (60 per cent), followed by those from British Columbia (55 per cent), Atlantic Canada (54 per cent), Ontario (53 per cent), and Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec (all at 49 per cent).
“Businesses and governments can take a leadership role in generating digital trust through advanced public awareness and education initiatives around the cybersecurity practices and safeguards they have in place to secure citizen data from malicious threats,” Telka concluded. “By continually focusing on attracting highly skilled employees, further developing skills within their existing workforce, and reviewing and investing in the right technologies, governments will ensure that they are well positioned to protect their citizens’ personal data and predict, detect and respond to digital attacks.”
Accenture is a global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations with approximately 373,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries.