UK consumers’ trust on businesses’ data handling processes among the lowest in the world

Consumers in the UK do not have much faith in how the businesses they're dealing with are handling customer data, so much so that the amount of trust placed by UK consumers on businesses ranks much lower on average than the global average score. In Europe, only the Germans trust their businesses lesser than the Brits.

The lack of trust is because today's consumers are well aware of how much data businesses collect about them and how frequently such businesses suffer data breaches or sell off personally identifiable data of customers to other companies. As such, only 46 percent of consumers in the UK are willing to provide their personal information to organisations.

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This fact was revealed by CA Technologies' new Global State of Digital Trust Survey and Index 2018 which measured the Digital Trust Index across ten countries, including the U.K., France, Germany, and Italy. On a scale of 1 to 100 where 1 represented 'no trust' and 100 represented 'total trust', UK consumers scored an average of 56, compared to 58 scored by French consumers, 57 by Italian consumers, and 54 scored by Germans.

The report revealed that 83 percent of UK consumers prefer security over convenience during the transaction authentication process which explains why there is a measurable lack of faith in the ability or desire of organisations to fully protect customer data.

Only 29 percent of consumers are now dealing with organisations that were involved in a publicly disclosed data breach and of these, 32 percent have stopped using the services of an organisation because of a breach. Yet another reason behind the lack of trust is that even though 64 percent of them want businesses to provide them with easy to understand information about data protection policies, only 32 percent said they receive such information.

The perception gap

A major reason why businesses are unable to win the trust of UK consumers is that they believe consumers trust their data-handling capabilities a lot more than they actually do. For instance, the Digital Trust Index score of cybersecurity professionals and business executives based on their perceived digital trust is 73, 17 more than that scored by consumers.

This is because business executives don't think that data breaches suffered in the past are reflective of their security stance and how they protect customer data. Even though 56 percent of them admitted that their organisation had been involved in a publicly disclosed customer data breach, yet 88 percent of them said they are “excellent/very good” at protecting customer data.

At the same time, compared to 83 percent of consumers who prefer security over convenience during the transaction authentication process, only 60 percent of cybersecurity professionals and 59 percent of business executives believe security is more important than convenience.

The survey, carried out by analyst firm Frost & Sullivan, also found that 56 percent of organisations across the UK use consumer data internally and 47 percent of executives told the surveyors that their organisation sells consumer data to other organisations. It seems that not many cyber security professionals are aware of such activities as only 33 percent of them are aware of the fact that their company sells such data.

“To build more trusted consumer relationships, businesses need to work harder at protecting data against abuse from external and internal sources. They need to understand that success in the digital economy requires a security-first mindset – a key tenet in our Modern Software Factory model. A loss of digital trust has implications on all aspects of a business and brand perception," said Stephen Walsh, Sr Director, Security, CA Technologies.

The Global State of Digital Trust Survey and Index 2018 report noted that there is a significant gap between how UK organisations view their responsibilities on data stewardship and consumer expectations around how organisations protect consumer data.

"In the application economy where data is king, organisations must prioritise data privacy and security or risk serious ramifications. Organisations can mitigate these risks by taking a proactive stance on security, such as narrowing their policies for sharing user data, reducing privileged user access, implementing continuous user authentication technologies, and adopting better cybersecurity and privacy controls to stop hackers," it read.

This isn't the first time that researchers have observed a visible gap between how much consumers trust businesses with their data compared to the relative assessments of businesses. In February, research by security firm RSA revealed that 55 percent of consumers avoid handing personal data to a company they know to have been selling or misusing data without consent, and over 41 percent of them deliberately falsify data they supply to companies so as to protect themselves in the event of a data breach or companies misusing or selling their information.

RSA also found that the buying decisions of 78 percent of consumers are influenced by how certain companies handle cstomer data. They certainly trust companies that handle data responsibly, considering they aren't as protective about their personal information when it comes to sharing data with companies that have demonstrated the ability to secure customer data.

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