Data is the most valuable online currency a consumer possesses. Yet most people don’t trust the companies they’re sharing data with, according to a new market trends study published by Gartner. In fact, 75% of consumers worry their online accounts may be hacked and the vast majority also believe companies are using or sharing their data without even telling them, according to the study.
Who can blame them? Consumers are bombarded with news of cyberattacks and privacy violations every day and have plenty of reasons not to trust that their personal data is being protected from hackers or other kinds of misuse. Forced into a dilemma, consumers must choose between enjoying the convenient options that come with sharing personal data and the risk it entails, or, refusing to share data and being frozen out of the digital economy.
With the latter of those two choices not really feasible in our data-driven world, consumers take on risk and companies put their brands’ reputation on the line. This, unfortunately, isn’t likely to change. But what we can change is the way we think about security. Instead of perceiving data security as a complicated and inhibiting inconvenience, companies should prioritize the quality of their data security in the same way they protect the quality of all their products and services. When “baked” into their offerings, security becomes a powerful business enabler and driver.
In Data Security We Trust
It is becoming increasingly clear that customer trust is the foundation for a successful company. So how does a brand restore the trust dynamic when consumers are more distrustful than ever before? To start, companies should be open and honest with customers about the security measures that have been implemented to protect their data. For example, in their terms and conditions, assure customers that all their personal data will be tokenized or encrypted so that in the event of a breach, their data will remain protected. To further prove to be good stewards of customer data, they can also assure data security service level agreements are in place with the third parties that they share your data with.
Today, as data breaches increase in severity and scale, preventative measures like putting up a wall to keep out intruders will only go so far. Companies need to take a layered approach to security and treat their customers’ data like its their own. If they don’t prioritize security, a breach of trust and reputational damage is on the line.
The Consumer Never Forgets
Trust vanishes in an instant – a lesson too many companies learn the hard way. As technology continues to be embedded into nearly every facet of our daily lives, a brands’ success is contingent on keeping customer data secure. Nearly half of consumers surveyed in the Gartner study said their personal data and privacy was the most important factor for them to trust a brand, underscoring the expectations consumers have for companies’ data and privacy protection.
What’s more, consumers hold grudges. When evaluating a brand, consumers consider not only the brand’s current actions, but also its history of how it handles consumer data, according to the same study. Consumers expect and need companies to protect their privacy and keep data safe from hackers. Effective privacy and security controls are now a key differentiator between companies who do this well and those that don’t.
Investment versus Recovery
Failing to properly invest in data security means companies risk spending far more in the future on recovery expenditures and data breach fines after an incident. So far, companies have been fined $1.23 billion dollars since 2018. Aside from the heavy financial burden of a data breach or privacy violation, a company’s recovery from an incident also hinges on when – if ever – a brand’s reputation can be fully restored. But when companies add security and privacy protection such as encryption and access controls as a value-add to their products and services, security gets baked into a brand – and consumers are taking notice.
It is crucial consumer-facing brands employ a third-party vendor to ensure they have the proper protocols in place to defend their consumers from unavoidable cyberattacks and threats to privacy. As data growth continues to skyrocket, companies should continue to find ways to protect data through encryption with access controls, key management and tight security policies. Encryption and key management are critical components for companies to secure and safely take full advantage of the benefits of big data, and create a real competitive advantage in the process.
To find out how important trusted access is, read the key findings in our recent 2019 Access Management Index.