While the surveillance actions of the NSA may have generated headlines throughout the last 12 months, it appears that most U.S. citizens are more concerned about data center security than privacy.

According to a recently released survey of 1,000 registered voters commissioned by the Computer & Communications Industry Association, 75 percent of respondents were worried that data breaches would reveal personal information that could be used to perpetrate identity theft, with 50 percent noting that they had either been the victim of a breach or knew somebody that had.

The study, conducted over the telephone by a research group on behalf of the CCIA, also revealed that users were becoming far more aware of the risks posed by traditional means of access control, with 73 percent disabling features that remember credit card information, while a perceived fallibility of passwords was also noted as a major concern. Over 75 percent of those surveyed now use a different password for each service, while 53 percent would favor a two-step authentication process as part of a standard identification procedure.

Choosing what’s important
“Overall, 75 percent are worried about their personal information being stolen by hackers and 54 percent are worried about their browsing history being tracked for targeted advertising,” the authors of the study wrote, according to Dark Reading. “However, when voters are forced to choose which one is more important to them, their focus is almost unanimously (87 percent) directed on the need to protect their personal information from those who would use the info to harm them.”

The publication of this report comes out a time when the security of information is at the top of the agenda for most companies, especially in light of the ongoing revelations related to the Target breach. The last twelve months have been, according to PC World, the “year of the personal breach,” with Living Social, Evernote and Adobe all experiencing significant loss of data. In fact, the news source noted that the five largest breaches in 2013 affected around 450 million individual records – an astonishing amount of information to be lost.

For those involved in the protection of personal data, the challenge in 2014 will be to make sure that security compliance procedures and protocols are able to deal with potential attacks, irrespective of source. If the general public are more concerned about unauthorized access to information than their private lives, then it seems logical to assume that the time is right for a new form of data center security.