Online communities least trusted with personal information

Symantec announced the findings of its inaugural UK Trust Index, which investigates the extent to which the public trust different industries with their personal information.

Over 2,000 UK adults participating in the survey were required to give a trust score of between one (don’t trust at all) and seven (trust completely) depending on how much they trusted firms within a specific sector with their personal information. Sectors included financial services, online retail, public sector, online communities, publishing and gaming.

Financial services emerged as the only industry that the majority of respondents trust with their personal information. In fact, 10 percent said that they “completely” trusted financial organizations to keep their information confidential. More than a quarter (28 percent) of respondents gave the public sector a trust score of three or less. More than half (58 percent) said they were either unsure or untrusting of online retailers.

The survey indicates it’s the younger generation that feels most comfortable with handing over personal information to their financial institutions of choice with three in five of 18 to 24 year olds giving banks and building societies a trust score of five or higher.

Somewhat surprisingly, less than half (48 percent) of respondents trusted their information to be kept safe and confidential in the hands of the public sector. Online retailers also scored low on the trust index with nearly a third (32 percent) of respondents giving the sector a trust score of three or less.

Levels of trust dropped dramatically when looking at online communities, online publishers and the online gaming industry. On average, nearly 60 percent of respondents gave those industries a trust score of three or below. Online communities such as social networking sites and forums were perceived to be particularly untrustworthy, as more than a third (38 percent) of those surveyed felt that they couldn’t trust the industry with their personal information at all.

“It’s clear businesses that handle personal information have an issue with consumer trust,” said Si??n John, Security Strategist at Symantec. “The amount of information firms handle each day is growing at an astonishing rate, so organizations can’t afford to be seen as untrustworthy when dealing with the personal data relating to their customers. Gaining that confidence is down to having the right security credentials and making sure that no matter where data is stored or how it’s accessed, it’s demonstrably secure and the right policies are in place to ensure it’s not mishandled.”

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