A high majority of Americans (83%) are concerned about a criminal attack causing physical harm at large-scale events such as sporting events or concert festivals. More than one in five (22% of) Americans say they have cancelled plans or considered cancelling plans to attend large-scale public events due to concerns about physical attacks and the safety of their data.
Across the pond, three in 10 Britons think twice about attending large-scale events due to data or physical security issues. Although less than half of U.K. survey respondents have changed their plans to attend large events, some 45% are taking extra security precautions. Brits are as afraid of using public Wi-Fi at an event as of a physical criminal attack.
These are some of the insights from the 2019 Unisys Security Index survey of more than 13,000 consumers in 13 countries, including 1,000 in the U.S. and another 1,000 in the United Kingdom.
Currently, the U.K. index is at 147 (down from 149 in 2018), which is one of the lowest of the countries surveyed
Security index scores of countries
Unisys gauged attitudes on a range of security-related issues and created an index based on survey results. The index is a calculated score from zero to 300 based on concern about eight specific issues within the categories of national, financial, Internet and personal security.
Currently, the U.K. index is at 147 (down from 149 in 2018), which is one of the lowest of the countries surveyed. In contrast, the U.S. index is now at 165, considered a serious level of concern and the highest among developed countries surveyed.
Globally, the index average stands at 175, with the Philippines scoring highest with an index score of 234 and the Netherlands registering the lowest concern ratings with a score of 115.
Concerns about misuse of information
Privacy is an area where concern is growing. “This year more than half of U.K. citizens expressed concerns about the misuse of their personal information,” says Unisys’ Global Chief Security Architect, Salvatore Sinno. Another 49% expressed serious concerns that intelligence services listen in on them through electronic devices such as mobile phones or smart speakers.
The summer calendar of major sporting events, concerts and festivals raises the levels of security concern
The summer calendar of major sporting events, concerts and festivals raises the levels of security concern. Nick Aldworth, former National Counter Terrorism Co-Ordinator, tells the BBC that the government is not doing enough to ensure venues are secure. He supports a campaign for more rigorous checks at venues in the U.K., named Martyn’s Law, after Martyn Hett, a victim of the Manchester Arena attack in 2017.
Safety pointers while attending event
Salvatore Sinno of Unisys provides the following pointers on keeping safe this summer:
- If planning to attend a crowded event alone, let someone know. Make sure friends or family know where you are going, when you plan to arrive and when you are expected to return.
- Plan ahead and check local authorities’ alerts; sign up for any travel or news alerts to receive updates on traffic or news of any disturbances.
- As soon as you get to an event, survey your surroundings. Make sure you know where the exits are and agree on a meeting place with friends in case you should get separated from the group. Know where stewards and information points are so you can speak to someone if you need to.
- Be vigilant for suspicious activity at an event. Don’t be afraid to report something you think is unusual, such as unattended baggage or people behaving in a suspicious or threatening way.
- In an emergency, stay calm and move to the edges of crowds. Try to leave the area quickly and calmly. If you need to, follow the standard police advice of ‘Run, Hide and Tell’.
- Only buy event tickets from official channels or trusted websites.
- Update your mobile device with the latest, most secure software and avoid unsecured Wi-Fi networks; keep your phone charged and take along a battery charger pack.
- Don’t make electronic transactions at unofficial event vendors; be careful with contactless cards or making mobile transactions.
“Whether it’s your physical security or the security of your data, you can take precautions around major events so you do not make it easy for criminals to take advantage,” says Sinno.