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Image: iStock/Vladimir_Timofeev

A growing sense of exasperation is brewing from consumers from across the world when it comes to their belief in digital service providers keeping their user information safe. The No Silver Linings report from digital security company Imperva says that 35% of the 6,700 consumers surveyed do not trust organizations to adequately protect their sensitive information. While many already do not trust large companies to secure user data, nearly half (45%) believe that after a cyberattack their faith is broken in that company for good and that they will no longer use services from the victim company any longer.

“Consumers face a disheartening Catch-22 scenario: they need digital services to operate in modern life, but their trust in these services is deteriorating,” says Terry Ray, SVP and field CTO at Imperva. “Businesses need to focus on who is accessing their data and protecting the paths a cybercriminal might exploit to get to the data. Investing in data-centric security must be part of every organization’s strategy as consumers grow increasingly cynical of the services they use.”

Trust has been eroding for a while

Many consumers have indicated that their belief in organizations to keep data safe has been wearing thin for years. Of those who responded to the survey, 41% say their trust has decreased over the past five years. In addition, the option to not have their personal information shared has many feeling as if their hand is being forced. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents said they feel as though they have no choice in sharing data when it comes to using online services.

The trust within different industries varies as well when it comes to the data businesses are collecting and storing. The percentage of those surveyed trusting companies by industry when it came to handling data were as follows:

  • Financial services (37% say they trust)
  • Healthcare (33%)
  • Government organizations (29%)
  • Retailers (5%)

This has led to some users simply giving up when it comes to being concerned about their online presence, as 27% of responses said they have not bothered to change passwords if their account or website has been compromised. Younger adults who responded were also more forthcoming with information being on the internet. Respondents in the 18-24 age group are not as worried about the financial impacts of having data stolen, as only 48% listed it as one of their three biggest concerns, and are typically more concerned about their online presence than older respondents. One-in-five from the younger demographic noted they are worried a deep fake video of themselves would appear online, and 15% said they were worried about their social media accounts being compromised.

SEE: Password breach: Why pop culture and passwords don’t mix (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Cybersecurity is more important than ever when retaining customers

These findings all point towards one thing–it is vital that organizations are doing everything it takes to secure their customers’ information if they want to retain their customers’ business. With almost half of respondents saying one compromising event would spell the end of their use of company services and many simply giving up on accounts with lost or hacked credentials, it is critical that organizations do everything possible to mitigate potential risk when it comes to cybersecurity.

Imperva’s findings backup this sentiment as well, as the company implores that organizations stop splitting the way it approaches application security, data security and privacy into separate priorities. The cybersecurity company mentions that it makes more sense to tackle these items all at once, as they feed into one another and work together when keeping consumers and their data secure.

Another potential way to mitigate risk is understanding the threats that are currently out there, ranging from supply chain vulnerabilities to the simple misconfiguration of databases. By understanding what this data could be capable of if in the hands of a malicious actor, they can then plan for the numerous contingencies that may arise and put organizations at risk of compromised security.

Lastly, by constantly monitoring, adapting and updating security measures to account for new threats, organizations can earn back the trust once lost by consumers by building up goodwill over time. Applying encryption or protection to the data being housed itself can diminish the potential risk for a punishing cyberattack if hackers target your enterprise next.

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Strengthen your organization's IT security defenses by keeping abreast of the latest cybersecurity news, solutions, and best practices. Delivered Tuesdays and Thursdays