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Not all UK consumers would abandon a data-breached site

Nearly two-thirds of UK consumers would stop using a website hit by a breach, but nearly a quarter would not, a survey shows

Most UK consumers would stop using a website after it suffered a data breach, a study has revealed.

While 64% of online users would immediately stop using a bank or retailer if the site suffered a security attack or data breach, nearly a quarter would continue using the site, according to a survey commissioned by information security and risk management firm NTT Com Security.

The poll of more than 500 UK consumers explores consumer trust in online sites, including retailers, banks, social networks and dating sites. The survey comes in the wake of a number of major security breaches and ahead of one of the biggest online shopping periods.

According to the survey, less than a third of UK consumers plan to shop online for bargains over Black Friday (27 November), with 70% saying they have no plans to do so, while 30% said they plan to shop online. However, 79% said they will do “most” or “some” Christmas shopping online.

When asked what they would do if their online bank or retailer suffered a security attack, 24% said they would stop using the site and move to another supplier, while 44% would stop using it until the problem was fixed.

However, 14% said they would only stop using the site if it suffered another security problem, while 11% said they would carry on using it anyway.

The survey also revealed that the theft of credit card information is seen as the biggest threat to privacy when online (84%), followed by identity theft (80%), viruses (70%), scam emails (60%) and governments/companies tracking user activity (35%).

Concerns over privacy/safety of personal information (66%) and fears over fake or fraudulent websites (69%) are the top reasons that prevent people from using an online site, while 32% worry about making online payments.

Banks remain the most trustworthy websites, followed by healthcare providers (doctors/hospitals) and insurance firms. Online dating sites are the least trustworthy, followed by social networks. 

Stuart Reed, senior director of global product marketing at NTT Com Security, said online businesses should take note.

“While a significant minority says it would carry on using a site if it suffered a data breach, the majority would not – and this is lost business that will very difficult to get back,” he said.

“It appears that the theft and privacy of personal information is still a very real concern for people who are considering using services and shopping online.”

Given the number and scale of data breaches in 2015 alone, Reed said it is unsurprising that people are concerned.

“Opportunities such as Black Friday come round once a year and retailers should be capitalising on a potential online shopping bonanza,” he said.

“Absolute confidence in a site’s ability to protect personal information is integral to consumer trust. So it’s vital that businesses can demonstrate this by doing the basics well.”

According to Reed, businesses should ensure they have the right security processes and procedures in place.

“By having a well-defined and well-communicated incident response plan should a security breach occur, businesses can minimise the impact and cost of incidents,” he said.

Despite this easy win, Reed said NTT Com’s Global Threat Intelligence Report indicates that 74% of companies do not have an incident response plan in place.

Businesses should also engage with customers to help build awareness and show them that the necessary security and privacy levels are in place, said Reed.

The Centre for Retail Research estimates sales for this 2015’s Black Friday will reach £1.39bn.

Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving in the US, and is often regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

Black Friday was brought to the UK by Amazon in 2010 and, by 2014, UK shoppers spent £1m every three minutes on Black Friday, resulting in total sales of more than £800m and a jump in store traffic of 23%.

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