US anxiety levels climb fastest in the world

BY TIM JOHNSON
MCCLATCHY WASHINGTON BUREAU /TNS

WASHINGTON – Anxiety levels of Americans over matters such as war, terrorism, hacking and identity theft have spiked in recent years, a survey released Tuesday said.

Concerns about war and terrorism topped the list of matters gnawing at Americans, according to the Unisys Security Index, but viruses and hacking, bank card fraud and identity theft also stoke insecurity.

The Unisys index surveyed more than 13,000 people in 13 countries in April, and is considered one of the only recurring global snapshots of citizen perceptions.

Mindsets changing
“It appears that our cloak of security, the impression that we had that we are more secure than the rest of the world, is starting to fade,” said Bill Searcy, vice president for global justice, law enforcement and border security at Unisys, a global information technology company.

Levels of U.S. anxiety jumped sharply since the last such survey was conducted in 2014, and came in at the highest levels since the surveys began a decade ago.

The United States held eighth place among the 13 countries, chalking up the same score on perceptions of security as Colombia but trailing Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, the survey found.

Those feeling even more insecure than Americans reside in Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia, Mexico and the Philippines.

Serious concerns
Topping the list were national security issues, which include war and terrorism as well as natural disaster. Of Americans surveyed, 68 percent said they were extremely or very concerned about those areas.

Next came identity theft, which unnerves 61 percent. Bank card fraud seriously unsettled 58 percent, and viruses or hacking deeply concern 56 percent.

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