Master Data Management
Do people trust brands to protect their personal data?
Consumers have become increasingly wary about trusting organisations with their personal data. Considering the number of high-profile data breaches in recent times, it is hardly surprising that consumers wonder if the big brands are even trying to protect their data and what they are doing with it. Digital security company Imperva surveyed 6,700 consumers and 35 per cent of those surveyed indicated their lack of trust in the ability or willingness of organisations to protect sensitive data adequately. Quite a large percentage agreed that their faith in a brand breaks after a cyberattack and they stop using the brand’s services.
Cybercrime is a massive industry and organisations need to focus and protect the paths used by cybercriminals to reach and exploit sensitive data. Cybercriminals hack into data systems and profit from it by selling data and occasionally, holding it for ransom. Consumers are at a loss. While they need digital services to carry out many tasks everyday, they are losing trust in the service providers. Many feel that they are forced to share their personal information even if they do not wish to.
Consumer trust in data protection low across sectors
Surveys have shown that trust varies among industries. The 2022 Thales Consumer Digital Trust Index report found that while banks and financial services are most trusted to protect data, media and entertainment organisations are least trusted; the healthcare industry and consumer technology entities are trusted more than social media and government services. Undoubtedly, data breaches in financial services have the most devastating effects on customers and organisations. Other effects include being targeted for specific scams and personal information being used for fraudulent reasons.
Worries among customers about data breaches vary. Adults above 25 years of age tend to worry about financial losses, while those below 25 rarely do. They worry more about their social media accounts being compromised and their images and videos being used improperly.
Another pertinent question consumers have is why organisations collect so much personal information. The more the information collected, the higher the distrust. A US survey reported over half the respondents said their trust in a brand would increase if given the option of deleting data they had provided earlier.
Jebbit’s US-based Consumer Data Trust Index (CDTI) report of 2022 shows that consumers’ lack of trust in major brands continue to rise although digital activity, especially in the form of online shopping, continues to increase. According to the report, brands such as Google, Apple and Netflix have seen sharp falls in the trust index. Consumers report their distrust of brands increase when they see online advertisements from brands they had purchased from in the past. The increased appearance of irrelevant advertisements is a major sore point with most consumers.
Not surprisingly, 75 per cent of brands agree that building and maintaining trust among their customers is becoming very difficult.
What can organisations do to retain their customers?
All these facts make it very clear that organisations must wake up and invest adequately in data security solutions to win back the trust of their customers. They must do everything possible to mitigate any future risk. Many customers give up or plan to give up the services of an organisation after a single event of data breach. They stop using accounts with hacked or lost credentials. Organisations must take immediate measures not to lose any more customers.
- Cybersecurity outfits advise organisations to treat data security, application security and privacy under one umbrella. All three are connected and feed into one another. When they work together, customer data can be better secured.
- Organisations must explore and understand the prevailing risks and the weak points in their network. It could be vulnerabilities in the supply chain, or misconfigurations of organisational databases. Data security engineers need to understand how stolen data could be used by anyone with malicious intent. Plans can then be made to manage the vulnerabilities and obstruct possible data leaks.
- Organisations must make the effort to continuously monitor, adapt and update security arrangements for possible new threats. Applying security measures at many levels can reduce the possibilities of risk to a great extent. Customers can be brought back into the fold by keeping them updated about new security measures.
Consumer behaviour and expectations
Various surveys show that consumers want greater transparency from brands about their security measures and regulatory compliances. Consumers themselves are most likely to take pains to protect their personal data stored in banking and financial services. Email communication is usually the next service that is protected, followed by data in social media and online shopping. Healthcare information is not that closely guarded, nor travel information.
Consumers globally are of the opinion that all organisations should strictly implement enhanced security measures such as user authentication and encryption, especially if they have already experienced a data breach. If experts are not available in-house, organisations should consult external experts to avoid a repeat of such incidents. Organisations should take responsibility for losing consumer data and try to get it back. Many consumers are also of the opinion that victims of data breach should be compensated. It is clear that consumers want to see tangible change, not just intent.
With the acceleration of digital life, end users and organisations all demand secure and seamless experiences. Business leaders need to listen to their customers and take action to increase data security and educate customers about how they can implement data protection best practices in their personal lives.
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