A majority of U.S. consumers (84%) are concerned about the security of their personally identifiable information (PII), and 70% said their concern is greater today than just a few years ago, according to a new report from International Data Corp. (IDC).

The firm surveyed 2,500 consumers for the study, which measures consumer privacy sentiment across four vertical industries including financial services, healthcare, retail and government.

Younger consumers, those aged 18-35, demonstrate a higher concern for their personally identifiable information than do their 36-50 year-old counterparts, the report said. “Hyper awareness” and growing sensitivity toward data exposure appear to have consumers on the verge of making serious changes in their behavior, it said.

"The dawn of digital transformation has already affected the relationship between individuals and technology,” said Sean Pike, program vice president, security products and ediscovery and information governance at IDC.

“What once were convenience technologies are now guiding lights in everyday personal and business lives,” Pike said. “Technologies continue to integrate into the human experience and businesses and government entities leverage data-sharing ecosystems to provide services or sell products. The resulting impact is that individuals feel overly connected and may yearn for greater anonymity.”

It’s against this backdrop, when consumers feel their private information is in jeopardy, that they appear poised to take action, Pike said. “Consumers can exact punishment for data breaches or mishandled data by changing buyer behavior or shifting loyalty,” he said. “As a result, it is imperative that business leaders not only understand the risk that their organization assumes when collecting consumer PII, but also the potential security and compliance solutions available to help manage the collection, processing, and use of sensitive data."

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