Identity Theft, Personal Cybersecurity and Terrorism Top the List of Americans’ Security Concerns, Finds University of Phoenix Survey

More than a quarter of working adults are interested in exploring careers in security

PHOENIX--()--Security related topics are often front and center in the 24-hour news cycle, but what concerns Americans the most? According to a new national survey from University of Phoenix® College of Criminal Justice and Security, identity theft (70 percent) and personal cybersecurity (61 percent) are the security issues of greatest concern. These fears may be grounded in experience as nearly two-in-five (39 percent) have suffered a personal security breach, such as identity theft, unauthorized use of credit card information or email/social media account hacking.

Other security concerns include: terrorism (55 percent), national security (54 percent), personal safety (49 percent), neighborhood crime (47 percent), property theft (44 percent) and natural disasters (44 percent). Despite recent high profile incidents, only 18 percent of working adults are concerned about workplace violence. More working adults (31 percent) are concerned about organizational security issues such as corporate cybersecurity, network security, fraud and corporate espionage.

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The recent online survey of more than 2,000 Americans was conducted on behalf of University of Phoenix by Harris Poll in August 2014.

The survey also examines shifts in security concerns. Only 12 percent of Americans feel generally more secure than they did five years ago, while 41 percent feel equally secure and nearly half (47 percent) feel less secure. At least half of Americans are more concerned about personal cybersecurity (61 percent), identity theft (60 percent) and national security (50 percent) than they were five years ago.

Americans’ concerns about security issues compared to five years ago:

Security Issue     More concerned     Equally concerned     Less concerned
Personal cybersecurity     61%     33%     7%
Identity theft     60%     34%     6%
National security     50%     42%     7%
Terrorism     47%     42%     10%
Organizational security*     37%     52%     11%
Personal safety     37%     55%     9%
Property theft     36%     54%     10%
Neighborhood crime     36%     51%     13%
Natural disasters     34%     57%     10%
Workplace/office violence*     21%     56%     23%

*Note: Organizational security and workplace/office violence data represents only working adults

*Due to rounding, percentages may not add to 100%.

“Security issues affect every American in some way, both personally and professionally,” said James “Spider” Marks, recently appointed executive dean of University of Phoenix College of Criminal Justice and Security. “All industries and most businesses have to dedicate resources to identify and address security threats, creating significant job growth in the sector and demand for training.”

Marks, a retired major general with more than 30 years of service in the United States Army, has held numerous leadership and consulting roles in the private sector, including entrepreneurial efforts in education, energy and primary research. Previously, Marks was president and CEO of Global Linguist Solutions, a private company that provided linguistics services to the U.S. military. In his current role with the University, Marks is responsible for the management of the College of Criminal Justice and Security, overseeing the College’s academic standards and the development of programs and curriculum.

Workplace preparedness

When it comes to workplace security issues, working adults are most confident in their companies’ abilities to screen new employees, with 59 percent saying their employers are completely or very prepared to address this issue. Natural disasters (35 percent), workplace violence (41 percent) and business espionage (41 percent) are the three security issues that workers think their employers are the least prepared to address.

Issues for which working adults have assessed their employers’ readiness:

Security Issue     Completely/very prepared     Somewhat prepared     Not at all prepared
Employee screening     59%     31%     10%
Data loss     46%     40%     14%
Business continuity planning     44%     39%     16%
Electronic security breach/data theft     44%     39%     17%
Workplace property theft     42%     40%     17%
Business espionage     41%     38%     21%
Workplace violence     41%     39%     20%
Natural disasters     35%     46%     20%

Due to rounding, percentages may not add to 100%.

On the enterprise side, security industry leaders identified cybersecurity (39 percent), crime (33 percent), mobile technology (12 percent), natural disasters (9 percent) and globalization (7 percent) as the top security risks likely to affect companies in the next five years, according to a recently released survey from ASIS Foundation and University of Phoenix. The Security Industry Survey of Risks and Professional Competencies also ranks the top competencies needed by employers in the sector.

Interest in careers in this high growth sector

The U.S. security industry is a $350 billion annual market1, with millions of jobs that span nearly every sector of the global economy. The industry is growing exponentially, creating more opportunities every day2.

Opportunity and interest in this sector seem to align. In fact, according to the survey, 42 percent of working adults have either worked in security, law enforcement or other criminal justice–related fields or have some level of interest in these careers. More than a quarter (27 percent) of working adults have never worked in security fields, but have some interest in doing so, with 10 percent saying they are interested and another 17 percent saying they would consider it. Six percent of working adults are employed in these fields now and 9 percent previously worked in these fields. Examples of jobs in security fields include cybersecurity, corporate security planning, law enforcement, Homeland Security, risk management, emergency management, information security, corrections and court system positions.

“With increasing global demand for security across every industry, it is critical for education to align itself with industry needs and prepare security professionals to support an ever-changing and complicated workforce,” said Marks. “Many are not aware of the incredible career growth that is available in the sector and the broader business skills that are in-demand. Aspiring security professionals must develop business management skills, such as strategic planning, contingency planning, supply chain knowledge, STEM literacy, people management and financial planning. Education options in the sector are evolving to more closely mirror employers’ priorities and help security professionals pursue fulfilling career paths.”

University of Phoenix offers a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Security and Management degree program to help address an increasing national and international demand for technical competence and professional acumen in the security industry. The program provides students with the required knowledge to develop competency and management skills in organizational security. While the program includes courses in Terrorism and Homeland Security, it also recognizes the depth and breadth of the discipline and provides a variety of courses that expose students to the entire spectrum of the security profession.

For more information about the College of Criminal Justice and Security degree programs and continuing education, including on time completion rates, median loan debt of graduates and other important information visit:

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix among 2,014 U.S. adults (aged 18+) between August 1-5, 2014. Of those, 1,034 are full/part-time or self-employed. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL), University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit

1 ASIS International and the Institute of Finance & Management (IOFM), The United States Security Industry Size and Scope, Insights, Trends, and Data, 2013

2 Ibid.


University of Phoenix
Tanya Burden, 303-570-0617

Release Summary

Identity theft, personal cybersecurity and terrorism top the list of Americans’ security concerns. More than a quarter of working adults are interested in security careers.


University of Phoenix
Tanya Burden, 303-570-0617