Consumers have no faith in online security: Gemalto

A quarter of respondents have already been victims of fraudulent use of their personal information.
A quarter of respondents have already been victims of fraudulent use of their personal information.

Six in 10 consumers globally feel social media poses the greatest risk to their personal data security.

This is according to an online survey conducted by security firm Gemalto, among 10 500 consumers from various countries globally, including SA. The survey uncovered that respondents feel certain online activities are riskier than others.

When asked about companies that expose consumers to the greatest data security risk, 62% reported a lack of confidence in online retailers, while 61% worried about social media security and 59% about banking sites.

According to the report, many consumers arrived at the above viewpoints as a result of their first-hand experience with data breaches.

A quarter of those surveyed have already been victims of fraudulent use of their financial information, with 19% saying they had been victims of fraudulent use of their personally identifiable information, and 16% of identity theft. Worse, consumers have no faith that things are going to improve, as two-thirds (66%) are worried that at some point in the future their personal information will be stolen.

Restoring faith

"Businesses have no choice but to improve their security if they want to address frustrated consumers that don't believe the onus is on them to change their security habits," says Jason Hart, CTO, Data Protection at Gemalto.

"Social media sites in particular have a battle on their hands to restore faith in their security and show consumers they're listening; failing to do so will spell disaster for the most flagrant offenders, as consumers take their business elsewhere."

Social media incidents accounted for over 56% of the 4.5 billion data records compromised worldwide in the first half of 2018, according to the Gemalto Breach Level Index, released in October.

In April, Facebook revealed almost 60 000 South African Facebook users could have been impacted by the social network's data leak. In August, Facebook announced another breach affecting 50 million of its global users.

More and more South African organisations have suffered data breaches, and have had to disclose them. In June, an external party gained unauthorised access to Liberty Group's IT infrastructure.

In May, South Africans suffered a massive data leak, which resulted in close to a million personal records being exposed. This was after another mega leak in October 2017 that saw personal information of over 30 million South Africans compromised.

Customer churn

The majority of Gemalto Survey respondents said they were willing to walk away from businesses entirely if they suffered a data breach. Two-thirds (66%) said they are unlikely to shop or do business with a company that experiences a breach where their financial and sensitive information is stolen, according to the survey.

In addition to switching brands, young people are more prepared to go further and participate in legal action against brands that lose their data than older generations. Nearly seven in 10 (67%) 18-24-year-olds said they would take fraudsters and brands that suffered a breach to court, compared to just 45% for people in their 60s.

According to a study conducted by IBM Security in partnership with Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach has escalated in SA from R28.6 million in 2016 to R32 million in 2017 and R36.5 million this year.

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