Businesses want to know as much as possible about their customers. This is why cookies are so helpful in tracking user searches, location information, etc. Data like this is crucial in making business decisions and giving customers what they want. While businesses now depend on this digital data, there is a growing concern amongst consumers regarding their privacy and how this information is being used.
Apprehension is Growing
With over 2,000 data breaches in 2019 alone, consumers are growing increasingly wary of companies’ ability to protect their data and unfortunately 2020 is not going to be any different. These data breaches have affected companies of all sizes from small businesses to major companies including Facebook, DoorDash, Yahoo, Marriott, and Adobe. With even large, well-established tech-based companies finding themselves susceptible to data breaches, consumer confidence in the ability of businesses to protect their information is steadily fading.
The result of this fading confidence is consumers wanting to share less information with the sites that they visit. Many consumers simply don’t trust companies to use the data they collect responsibly. Furthermore, few consumers think that companies will use the data they collect to improve their lives. This leaves them less inclined to share the desired information, resulting in consumers sharing as little information as possible.
The loss of autonomy online from a security breach can also be costly for consumers. When a consumer has their identity stolen, they end up losing an average of $1,300. While many systems are in place in the banking industry to protect consumers from these types of fraudulent expenses, the reality is that getting their identity stolen as the result of a cybersecurity lapse is expensive for consumers. Even if their identity isn’t stolen, a security breach could mean additional stress for consumers.
Who is Responsible for Protecting Consumer Privacy
With consumers becoming increasingly apprehensive about sharing information with the whist they use, there is a question of who is responsible for protecting consumer privacy. In the EU, the government has stepped forward to make an effort to protect consumer data with the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
This legislation gives consumers mode control over their data. The US has yet to pass similar federal legislation. Instead, US privacy laws vary by sector and type of data. These regulations may also vary from state to state. Consumers expect the government to regulate how companies use the data they collect.
While consumers believe the government has some responsibility, most consumers feel that the majority of the responsibility for protecting their data falls on the shoulders of companies themselves. The common consensus is that companies must go above and beyond what is required by law to manage cybersecurity and privacy risks. This means having proper security measures in place and actively looking for possible breaches to minimize the risk to consumers.
Consumers Want Control
Privacy is important to consumers. Therefore, cybersecurity is important to consumers. When a consumer has trust that a company is going to make the necessary effort to protect their information and use it responsibly, they are more willing to share information.
Essentially, what consumers most want is control over their information. They want to control what information is being shared, who is collecting it, and how it is being used. Yet, many consumers are also realizing that as more and more sites collect data, they are being able to control less of their digital footprint, including their privacy. This leaves consumers to depend on a relationship of trust with the websites and companies that they use.
Cybersecurity and Privacy Needs to be Prioritized
To keep customers, companies need to prioritize their cybersecurity and user privacy. Making the necessary technological improvements to protect consumer data will pay for itself in the long-run. Firstly, the average global cost of data breaches is $3.9 million, making it a costly error. With predictions of cybercrimes to continue rising to reach $6 trillion in 2021, focusing on cybersecurity can help protect your business from becoming another statistic.
Perhaps more importantly, however, is prioritizing cybersecurity and privacy to continue building relationships of trust with customers. If customers feel you are not doing enough to protect their privacy, they will take their business elsewhere. This loss of business not decreases your bottom line but enhances that of your competitors.
Where to Focus First
Making the most of your efforts at cybersecurity means focusing on the important data first. While company trade secrets and intellectual property are important for your company, you must include personally identifiable information (PII) into the mix of important data to protect. Focusing on PII is of the utmost importance and this is what your relationship of trust with your customers is built upon.
Efforts need to be made that this information is as equally protected as your company’s trade secrets. As customers become increasingly wary of cybersecurity and protecting their own privacy, prioritizing your efforts to protect customer information will help maintain the trust you have developed with your customers.