Cybertheft Yields Little Trust in Big Business

July 10, 2014
By: Adam Brandt

In April of 2011, electronics juggernaut Sony suffered a data breach so biblical that 77 million user accounts were compromised, one of the most massive scale internet thefts of all time.  Pan to fall 2013, 40 million credit and debit card accounts pilfered thanks to Target (News - Alert) and their clearly ill-managed data silos.

Every single day, we as consumers utilize methods of payment (credit cards, debit cards, mobile payments) tantamount to placing perennial means of access to our finances right in the hands of a myriad of industry verticals, and if a market study conducted by Radius Global Market Research holds any truth to it, commerce as we know it may withdraw back into the proverbial dark ages of physical, tangible currency.

According to Radius GMR’s online consumer study, entitled “Privacy & Security Issues Among U.S. Consumers”, there are few customers left holding any semblance of trust that a company will, or even has the means to keep their private information safe.

"Ongoing security breaches have pushed the issue of online security to the top of consumers' minds," said Jamie Myers, Radius GMR Director. "We set out to determine which industries were the most trusted among consumers when it comes to keeping data secure. In the end, those surveyed felt that no company in any industry is doing it well."

When U.S. technology owners were asked which industry vertical was doing the best job of keeping their information safe, a resounding 29 percent (highest percentage by far) voted ‘no industry’, nor could they identify one company they trusted out of a large list of specific company names.

"Consumers made it clear that a perception of poor security practices is reason enough to stop doing business with a brand," adds Myers. "Clearly it is not enough to have a good track record. In this environment brands must adjust communications to merchandise ongoing efforts in order to establish and keep trust."

Keep trust indeed, a whopping 25 percent of consumers think financial websites are doing the best, operating systems and social media make their bed in the lowest and least trusted echelon of industries.

An old axiom tells us that trust is earned, and it is with much disdain that this columnist is unable to recount one message of assurance, one menial remark to the effect of ‘this is what we are doing to protect your information’.  Until said time when big business uproots itself from its role as direct and de facto facilitator of identity theft and fraud, one might be wise to deal with big business, only with tangible currency.

Edited by Maurice Nagle