How have consumer attitudes changed towards data security?

Over the last few years, data has become non-exclusive; with the information consumers create and leave behind now the stuff of headlines and documentaries. From swiping a railcard to changing a TV channel, every time anyone moves in the digital world, a traceable footprint is created, which organisations can use to analyse, predict and act upon.

Awareness of data security has also risen massively in the last 12 months, with issues such as Edward Snowden’s revelations around the USA’s National Security Agency PRISM programme, elevating data issues and its use into the consciousness of consumers. As data is rapidly taking its place in the national conscious and with the digital era upon us, our data is more valuable than ever.

So it’s no surprise that consumer attitudes towards data security have also changed over the last few years, according to a new report, commissioned by Fujitsu UK & Ireland. This report, which looked at consumer attitudes towards data security and their trust towards organisations looking after this data, found that consumer trust in organisations to protect their data has hit a ten year low, with only 9% of consumers believing that organisations are doing enough. Alongside this, nearly a third of consumers (29%) admitted that their trust in organisations had declined in the last twelve months alone.

This erosion of trust highlights the concern of consumers as to how organisations are looking after their data and how it’s being used, especially in a landscape which is getting infiltrated with more devices than ever before. And this is not just in one industry. According to the report, this decline has occurred across a variety of sectors, with some seeing a more dramatic drop than others over the last decade, and each of the sectors seeing a notable drop in confidence.

With trust now a major issue for many industries, organisations need to start looking at how to combat this erosion of trust. In the report, 65% of consumers noted that they have had concerns about whether the Government would use their data securely, matched closely by 69% who said the same of any organisation that holds their data.

To help gain trust of their customers and help build consumer confidence in their industry, there are three clear imperatives which organisations should consider.

Firstly, the gradual decline in consumer trust must be countered. As consumer data continues to grow in volume, organisations need to move quickly and offer genuine value and engagement from the data they hold on from their customers, or risk losing customers forever.

Organisations also need to focus on security first and foremost. Security is a governing factor in many of the issues surrounding data privacy, so organisations need to rise and meet this challenge. In the report, consumers highlighted the concern of their data if it was lost from an organisation, and although they may seem demanding, consumers have a clear understanding of what to expect from organisations and deserve for their data to be treated with respect.

Lastly, organisations need to focus on proving that they handle data securely as simply being secure is no longer enough. Trust is not a given, so many organisations need to work hard to regain trust lost throughout the last decade, by showcasing that they hold their consumer’s data in the highest regard.

In this digital age, positivity towards data security has declined as awareness has steadily grown. The report revealed that 70% of consumers would “seriously’ consider switching banks if there was a security breach, highlighting that consumers are now savvy and switched on, ready to act if organisations fail them and their data needs. It is now not only about how it is used, but also how data is managed, and because of this, organisation’s need to act and show that they are able to offer the highest standards of data protection and privacy. If they do this, they will be more likely to reap in the rewards from consumer data.

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