Consumers want info protected

Consumers are willing to walk away from businesses entirely if they suffer a data breach.

Two-thirds (66%) of South African consumers are unlikely to shop or do business with an organisation that experiences a data breach where the consumers’ financial and sensitive information is stolen.

This is according to research done by Gemalto, a world leader in digital security. Social media companies are believed to be the most vulnerable, with 61% of consumers saying they pose the greatest risk for exposing data.

Surveying 10 500 consumers globally, Gemalto found that, across all ages, 93% are placing the blame squarely on businesses and would think about acting against them. Social media sites worry consumers most, with 61% concerned companies in this space not adequately protecting consumer data, followed by banking websites (40%).

With the rising awareness of data protection and data privacy issues, consumers now believe the majority (70%) of responsibility for protecting their data rests on the company holding it. This has made data protection a major consideration for consumers when interacting with a brand.

These concerns are prompted by 91% believing that there are applications and websites they currently use which pose a risk to the protection and security of their personal identifiable information (PII).

“Businesses have no choice but to improve their security if they want to address frustrated consumers who don’t believe the onus is on them to change their security habits,” says Jason Hart, CTO, Data Protection at Gemalto.

“Social media sites in particular have a battle on their hands to restore faith in their security and to show consumers they’re listening. Failing to do so will spell disaster for the most flagrant offenders, as consumers take their business elsewhere.”

It’s unsurprising that consumers are frustrated with the state of data protection within organisations. A quarter of those surveyed have already been a victim of fraudulent use of their financial information (26%), 19% through fraudulent use of their PII, and 16% of identity (ID) theft.

“As young people become the big spenders of the future, businesses are risking not only alienating their current and future revenue streams but also their reputation if they continue to give the impression that they don’t take data security seriously. Moving forward businesses must start doing the basics properly; protecting their most valuable asset, data, with the correct security controls,” Hart concluded.