Data security and UK consumers

With cyber-security incidents increasing, GDPR scares and the Cambridge-Analytica crisis, data security is on everyone’s mind. UK consumers are expressing willingness to walk away from a business that fails to look after their personal data. From this, retailers are most at risk of customer loss.

Digital security firm Gemalto found seven out of ten UK consumers would halt business with a brand which has suffered a breach of its users financial or personal data.

In terms of businesses most at risk:

  • 62% of respondents are willing to walk away from retailers after a data breach
  • 59% of respondents for banks
  • 58% of respondents for social media sites.

This is due to the rising awareness of data protection and data privacy from heightened news events. This includes the Cambridge Analytica scandal and increased publicity around the importance of GDPR. 70% of consumers believe responsibility for their data is with the company holding it.

Although this figure seems high, to me this is unsurprising. I am constantly reading about data breaches. In the height of summer holidays, BA suffered a malicious data breach where 380,000 transactions were affected. Half a billion Marriott companies were under threat from huge data breaches, FIFA was hacked, and even the British government exposed secret files through Trello.

This news is everywhere.

Despite this large figure, only 25% feel organisations understand the importance of protection and security of customer data. Additionally, only 35% of consumers have provided feedback to organisations concerning their security measures. Only 33% said they would do in the future.

This may seem like a difficult position for businesses to gauge their consumers opinions but:

“Businesses have no choice but to improve their security if they want to address frustrated consumers that don’t believe the onus is on them to change their security habits,” said 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 show consumers they are listening. Failing to do so will spell disaster for the most flagrant offenders, as consumers take their business elsewhere.”

Consumers are not planning on changing the way they use sites online as the responsibility is believed to be held by the companies holding data. 55% of respondents use the same password across different accounts on different sites.

But why should they? For example, during the Cambridge Analytica scandal data was being drawn from surveys and quizzes too. It should not be for consumers to constantly be fearful of their behaviour. This being said, some due diligence does always help.

Therefore, this perspective needs to be heightened and considered when it comes to security.

“This should be a wake-up call to businesses that consumer patience has run out,” said Hart. “It’s clear they have little faith that organisations are taking their data protection seriously, or that their concerns will be heard, forcing them to take action themselves.

“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.”

As a consumer worried about my personal data, I can only hope that this guidance gets across.

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