A customer’s willingness to buy from and invest in a company is driven by their perceptions of it. The product or service that the company provides is most often secondary considerations. That’s why it’s so important for brands to gain and maintain customer’s sympathy and trust. Now it’s a whole new ball game for brands since significant data abuse took place and trust issues arisen abruptly. Now consumers actively seek regulatory solutions and take necessary action to protect themselves. Consumers’ concerns about the security and privacy of personal data are driving their measurable behavioral change.
Data on customers’ sensitivity
55% of Americans report feeling worse about data breaches in the last 12 months. 49% say they feel worse about the privacy of their personal data. The cruel competition for consumer attention has led some brands to cross (or rather – erase) the lines between targeted marketing and privacy violations. Fortunately, recipients of these actions get more and more conscious of them. Companies that don’t take their customers’ private information as seriously as the customers do are faced with harsh consequences. Forrester’s research shows that one out of three US adults has canceled a transaction because of privacy concerns. Nearly half of consumers are skeptical when brands say they keep consumer data safe – 48% report they don’t believe companies when they say their data is protected, and 49% don’t believe companies when they declare data breach issues are resolved. Nine in ten consumers (89%) believe that there needs to be more legislation around data privacy and that companies should be fined for data breaches. 59% report that large tech companies should be broken up.
The real face of cyber-crime
The lines between cybersecurity and privacy are blurring. This year’s Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report showed that 70% of web app attacks in 2014 were strategic in nature. The true targets weren’t the companies that own the apps, but the patrons that utilize those digital assets. Those attacks were aimed at capturing private data. The black market is awash with private data belonging to individuals, with cyber thieves’ monetizing it in many diverse ways. The internal security many organizations have in place isn’t enough to secure customers. Traditional security best practices dictate strong encryption and defense-in-depth postures. The problem is that these strategies leave gaps in security outside the traditional firewall. Even if good encryption is used and endpoint scanning solutions are in place, many digital assets existing in the web, mobile, and social media are outside the walled garden — often leaving them unaccounted for and unguarded. The key to ensuring safe communications with users is to first understand that what exists on the Internet always leads back to the company – it’s an organization’s digital footprint.
Is this consumers’ distrust ignored by brands?
That’s equal to a huge reputational risk. When it comes to protecting consumers’ data, 74% of survey respondents said companies didn’t improve or have gotten worse in the last year. “We found two particularly fascinating takeaways in this year’s study,” says Melissa Kinch, managing director of Technology at Ketchum. “First, the same proportion of people – 66% – are worried about data privacy as are concerned about data security. This is a wake-up call for many brands who believe that cybersecurity is their biggest reputational risk when it comes to data and is in danger of leaving themselves vulnerable when it comes to privacy policies. Second, people don’t trust brands when they say their data are safe.
Steps towards the customer that brands need to take
Customers and business partners will increasingly demand that companies show proof of ongoing security and monitoring to protect sensitive data. The security of the information supply chain is gaining traction within IT security circles. Companies are getting to the realization that the weakest link in their security posture may not be within their perimeter walls but rather inside the walls of those they choose to do business with. If you follow these steps, not only will you be able to demonstrate how you’re protecting their data, you’ll also be in a position to use your advanced security posture as a differentiator with new customers.