Holiday-Related Studies Find Customers Will Go Elsewhere When Security Fails

Thursday Nov 30th 2017 by Sue Marquette Poremba
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The holiday shopping season puts a special emphasis on retail outlets and security, but all businesses should take note.

I know Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, but the holiday shopping season is in full swing. Some interesting cybersecurity studies are out right now that I think should serve as a good reminder on why companies should be taking a hard look at their cybersecurity systems – not just during November and December, but all year round.

The other day I mentioned that if I were an Uber customer, I’d be very leery about using the company’s services anymore after their data breach (among other issues). I’m not alone in my apprehension of returning my business to an organization that has suffered a data breach. A new study from Gemalto found that 70 percent of shoppers would stop doing business with a company if it experienced a data breach, according to a survey of more than 10,000 consumers worldwide.

It also seems like consumers are a lot more aware of data breaches and cyber threats. More than a third realize they could become the victim of a cyber incident at any time (a number that has been on the rise over the past couple of years), but especially think they are more at risk during the holiday shopping season. At the same time, nearly two thirds believe that the organization needs to step up and take responsibility for protecting customer information and the consequences when a breach occurs. This is resulting in businesses being forced to take additional steps to protect consumers and enforce robust security measures, as well as educate them on the benefits of adopting these. As Jason Hart, CTO, Identity and Data Protection at Gemalto, said in a formal statement:

Consumers are evidently happy to relinquish the responsibility of protecting their data to a business, but are expecting it to be kept secure without any effort on their part. It’s now up to businesses to ensure they are forcing security protocols on their customers to keep data secure. It’s no longer enough to offer these solutions as an option.

Unfortunately, as consumers relinquish responsibility of data protection to businesses, employees aren’t able to properly protect that data. According to a new study from MediaPro, nearly 80 percent of retail employees are insufficiently prepared to handle common privacy and security threat scenarios such as incident reporting, physical security or personally identifiable information.

The holiday shopping season puts a special emphasis on retail outlets and security, but I think that all businesses should take note. Bad security loses customers, and bad security can be caused by poor employee preparedness. What are you doing to make sure that your customers will stay with you in 2018?

Sue Marquette Poremba has been writing about network security since 2008. In addition to her coverage of security issues for IT Business Edge, her security articles have been published at various sites such as Forbes, Midsize Insider and Tom's Guide. You can reach Sue via Twitter: @sueporemba

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