Why should customers trust you with their data?

In the face of cyber attacks and corporate complacency over protection, customers are increasingly hesitant to trust organizations with their data.

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Cyber attacks and security breaches are changing peoples’ willingness to share data, particularly if it is discovered that an organization has been complacent about cybersecurity. To make full use of big data and the internet of things, which are heavily reliant on shared data, organizations must improve their data protection policies to safeguard their consumers’ personal privacy. These technologies provide great opportunities for future business growth — but only if customers do not withdraw their consent to share data.

Privacy attitudes are changing

Too many organizations have a tendency to be complacent about their customers’ data and privacy, mistakenly believing that their current willingness to share personal information will continue. However, research into big data by EY found otherwise. Fifty-five percent of consumers have become less willing to share personal data over the last five years, while 49% say they are less likely to share in the next five years. 

Only 20% of executives currently believe customers will restrict their data over the next five years. This highlights the extent to which management is largely unaware of how attitudes are changing. Cybersecurity complacency seriously threatens the business sustainability of organizations that heavily rely on data by giving their customers more reason not to share.

Choose third parties wisely

The increasing use of third parties to provide data collection, storage and analysis services creates potential security issues that undermine organizations’ efforts to fulfil privacy obligations. This is particularly an issue with cloud vendors, as a majority of them currently either do not have privacy policies or they have nontransparent policies. One of the criteria for choosing third–party vendors to provide data services should be that they possess a clear privacy policy — one which, at the very least, satisfies the bare minimum required by law.

Go beyond regulations

With the cyber threat increasing, stricter international regulations are forcing organizations to adopt better data protection policies. However, many executives continue to be more interested in compliance with data protection regulations than understanding the risks that precipitated the breach. Data protection requires a proactive attitude that emphasizes prevention is better than cure, rather than seeing cybersecurity as a compliance issue.

The new privacy standard

Started in 2010, Privacy by Design (PbD) has become the new standard for international privacy. PbD advocates all new businesses and technologies are created with privacy embedded into them — rather than being an afterthought. Despite being championed for years by privacy commissions as the leading privacy standard, most organizations still rely on ad hoc measures.

EY’s Global Information Security Survey 2015 found only 18% of organizations already use PbD when creating new processes and technologies, while 24% will implement it in the future. However, 38% of organizations currently do not specifically address privacy at all. Failing to make privacy protection a critical issue is not only a future cybersecurity crisis in the making — it is also a wasted opportunity to craft a unique selling point.

Take the lead on privacy

If the trend of people becoming increasingly sensitive and protective over their personal data continues, organizations that properly safeguard privacy could gain a competitive advantage. Privacy could well become a feature that heavily influences a customer’s decision to buy a product or service. 

Customers may end up purchasing from brands which have a reputation for undertaking their privacy protection obligations while avoiding those which neglect or do the bare minimum required by law. Be a leader on privacy protection and give your customers a good reason to share their valuable data with you.

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