Company News • 17.04.2013

One in four customers admit they do not trust companies to secure their personal information online

But customers still seem ill prepared to take precautions to protect themselves

One in four customers admit they do not trust companies to secure their...
Source: Integralis

Businesses have a job on their hands to address a serious lack of trust by customers that regularly shop, pay and bank online.

This is according to new research looking at consumer attitudes to online data security by information security and risk management company, Integralis, in which a quarter of all respondents admit they do not trust any organisations with their personal data online.

While 65 per cent of the 1,000 UK consumers surveyed trust banks to look after their personal information, this ‘trust factor’ drops by nearly half for online retailers (36 per cent) and insurance companies (34 per cent) and by two-thirds for supermarkets to just 24 per cent.  This is despite 79 per cent of customers banking online and over half grocery shopping online at least once a week.

While around two-thirds (63 per cent) of consumers trust their banks the most when doing financial transactions online, only 22 per cent trust online payment systems like PayPal and less than one in 10 trust a credit card provider.

Mick Ebsworth, Information Security Consulting Practice Director, Integralis, says: “What businesses should be concerned about is this intrinsic lack of trust by customers in online companies they are using on a regular basis.  Even the banking sector, which comes out top of the ‘trust factor’, should wake up to the fact that many users do not trust their banks to look after their personal data online.

“As we increasingly play out our lives on the Internet, whether it’s banking, shopping, payments or social networking, organisations need to build information security into the DNA of their business, which will help build trust and confidence among existing customers while attracting new ones.”

Despite customers’ fears and concerns over the security and privacy of having personal information online, they seem ill prepared to take precautions to protect themselves.

Social networks, for example, topped the list of ‘least trusted organisations’ in the survey, chosen by 32 per cent of respondents, yet more than a third (37 per cent) of social network users do not know how to change the privacy settings for all the sites they use.

Consumers also voiced concerns over the security of smartphones and tablets, seeing them as less secure than PCs and laptops – and only one in ten believing them to be more secure.  Despite this, over half of smartphone users (53 per cent) admit they do not regularly update the security settings on their mobile phone.

Customers are also happy to rely on traditional security methods like passwords as the best way to stay safe online.  Over half (55 per cent) believe that having one strong password is the best way to protect their privacy online, above other more secure and reliable technologies.

Mick Ebsworth, adds: “It’s interesting that despite online customers’ concerns, most are happy to trust more traditional security methods like self-set passwords as the best way to keep data secure online.  This is over much tougher methods, like secure ID tokens, SSL padlocked entry to personal information, data intrusion software, encryption, and even a combination of security options. 

“Organisations need to help better educate customers to be more security conscious and to adopt their own security best practices, regardless of what they are doing and where they are online.”

Integralis commissioned market research company, Vanson Bourne, to survey 1,000 consumers across the UK during February/March 2013.  The survey titled ‘Consumer attitudes to online data security’ was broken down equally between male and female and by age groups (18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54 and 55+).

Additional findings in the survey:

  • Task performed online weekly or more often: Accessing bank accounts (79 per cent) was top choice, followed by using social networks (65 per cent), grocery shopping (57 per cent) and reading newspapers/magazines (52 per cent).
  • Consumers regard the biggest online threats as identity theft (76 per cent), viruses/malware (61 per cent) and scam emails (51 per cent). 
  • One quarter trust social networks to hold specific personal information like date of birth, mother’s maiden name and marital status, but over half do not trust them with any personal information.
  • Using social networks, 67 per cent of consumers provide access to close family and friends or “friends of friends” only – with just one in twenty allowing access to “people I find interesting”.
  • 47 per cent of smartphone users regularly update security settings, while 53 per cent have out-dated security settings, i.e. no security software, or are unaware phones have security settings.
  • Most consumers put personal apps on their own smartphones (71 per cent) as well as work phones (62 per cent), potentially exposing them and their companies to serious security risks.

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