Home Security Aussies face growing data breach problem, but lack adequate security: report

Many Australians are failing to adequately secure their data, including their social media accounts, despite increasing vulnerability to data breaches, according to new research.

The possibility of being hit by a data breach has consumers worldwide, and in Australia — 70% of those surveyed — ready to stop doing business with a company if it experiences a data breach, according to the Customer Loyalty 2017 Report by digital security firm Gemalto.

The survey of 1000 Australians, from 10,500 consumers globally, found over half (53%) of them say they would likely abandon their bank if it suffered an online breach and almost three out of five (58%) would stop shopping with a retailer who experienced a breach.

And, 72% of Australians say they would cease using companies if their financial and sensitive information, including card details, banks accounts or passwords, were compromised.

Globally, the research, by Vanson Bourne for Gemalto, found that over half (56%) of consumers are still using the same password for multiple online accounts.

And, even when businesses offer robust security solutions, such as two-factor authentication, two-fifths (41%) of consumers admit to not using the technology to secure social media accounts, leaving them vulnerable to data breaches.  

Other key Australian findings include:

  • 56% of Australians said they are unlikely to do business with a company who experienced a breach of non-financial information vs 50% globally
  • 81% of Australians would like organisations to have greater security online
  • 62% of Australians are worried at some point their online personal information will be stolen
  • 54% of Australians would stop using a social media site if it suffered an online breach
  • 60% of Australians are confident banking online/mobile banking, higher than the global average 53%.

Globally, seven in ten consumers (69%) feel businesses don’t take the security of customer data very seriously.

According to Gemalto, the fact that consumers admit to not using available security technology may be because the majority (62%) believe the business holding their data is mostly responsible for its security.

Gemalto says 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 such measures.

Retailers (61%), banks (59%) and social media sites (58%) were found to have a lot of work to do, with these being sectors that consumers would leave if they suffered a breach.  

“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,” says Jason Hart, chief technology officer, Identity and Data Protection at Gemalto.

“In the face of upcoming data regulations such as GDPR, 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. These protocols must be mandatory from the start – otherwise businesses will face not only financial consequences, but also potentially legal action from consumers.”

Despite their behaviour, consumers’ security concerns are high, as two-thirds (67%) worry they will be victims of a data breach in the near future.

“Consequently, consumers now hold businesses accountable – if their data is stolen, the majority (93%) of consumers would take or consider taking legal action against the compromised business,” Hart says.  

When it comes to the businesses that consumers trust least, more than half (58%) of those surveyed globally believe that social media sites are one of the biggest threats to their data, with one in five (20%) fearful of travel sites – and, one in ten (9%) think no sites pose a risk to them.

The survey revealed that a third (33%) of consumers trust banks the most with their personal data, despite them being frequent targets and victims of data breaches, with industry certified bodies (12%), device manufacturers (11%) and the government (10%) next on the list.

“It’s astonishing that consumers are now putting their own data at risk, by failing to use these measures, despite growing concerns around their security,” Hart cautions.

“It’s resulting in an alarming amount of breaches — 80% — being caused by weak or previously stolen credentials. Something has to change soon on both the business and consumer sides or this is only going to get worse.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).


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