An AlienVault survey of 300 IT security experts attending Infosecurity Europe last month found that 26 percent of respondents say a Web site outage or major security breach could cost customers their lives.

"We know that if a government site or a national critical infrastructure is hacked it will cost lives, but it's the impact for private companies that is all too often ignored," AlienVault CEO and president Barmak Meftah said in a statement. "If a commercial enterprise holds personal information about people's private lives, it could prove critical -- even a matter of life or death. For example, recently a dating site was hacked and the implications to its members are potentially huge. The risk of individuals becoming victims to stalking, if that was the intention of the hacker in this case, is just one illustration, but the severity is ultimately dependent on who is behind the attack."

The survey also found that 40 percent of respondents most fear a privacy breach from China, with the U.S. and Russia following at 13 percent. Only 5 percent of respondents said they weren't concerned about anyone violating their privacy.

Seventy-one percent of respondents said they're most concerned about insider threats to data, compared to 28 who said they worry most about attacks by hackers, and 7 percent who said they fear threats from consultants and other third parties.