Securing business data is not just a legal requirement but a means of customer retention, with a survey suggesting consumers would actively boycott any company that does not properly safeguard their data.
The 2018 Veritas Global Data Privacy Consumer Study, by Veritas Technologies, explored the attitudes of 12,500 people across 14 countries, and found that 63 per cent of people would abandon a business they currently use that fails to protect their personal information.
Worse still for businesses, 82 per cent would dissuade family and friends from using that business as a direct result of this failure.
The potential damage for businesses from data breaches doesn’t end there, with three quarters (74 per cent) willing to report a business to authorities, and 64 per cent saying they would post negative reviews and comments about the business online.
Conversely, those businesses that do invest in data protection are likely to be rewarded for their efforts, with more than half (54 per cent) of consumers admitting they would not just frequent these businesses, but would actually spend more with them.
“Trust in businesses has been eroded by breaches and high-profile cases where firms have shown a lack of understanding of how the consumer data they hold is used or shared,” Veritas’ senior director and global privacy lead Tamzin Evershed said.
“As consumers demand more transparency and accountability from businesses, the ‘new norm’ will see consumers rewarding those organisations that have good data hygiene practices in place while punishing those that don't. Businesses must be seen as trusted custodians of data if they want to reap the rewards associated with building consumer confidence.”
The research also suggested that data breaches are making consumers more conservative about the types of information they share, including details about personal finances, their online habits, location, sexual orientation and religious preferences.
“In light of recent events and changes in the law, consumers need much more reassurance when it comes to what personal data companies hold on them, and how it is shared and used,” said Ms Evershed.
“This could have significant implications for businesses that rely on collecting consumer data to provide intelligent and targeted services, such as location-based apps.”
She added: “The most successful companies will be those that are able to demonstrate that they are managing and protecting personal data in a compliant way across the board.”
It comes after a network security firm suggested that firms are being too complacent over their security measures a year on from the devastating WannaCry ransomware attack.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.