Do you ever think twice before typing your address into an online form? Do you ever worry about depositing a check via the app in your phone? Your doctor wants to send your test results via email – are you okay with that?
If pushing any bit of personal information out on to the digital highway makes you nervous, you’re not alone. A recent study conducted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration revealed that 45% of online households have slowed their online activities due to privacy and security concerns. The percentage of reluctant internet users gets even higher among consumers who have been burned before.
Most of the consumers said that privacy concerns has stopped them from doing their banking online. 26% said that security fears keep them from shopping online or participating on popular social networks.
What exactly are they worried about? Their biggest concern was identity theft, which is not surprising given how many times this concept appears in the news and on TV. Credit card fraud was the second biggest worry, with data collection and a loss of control over their data coming in third and fourth.
It’s interesting to note that the survey participants weren’t given multiple choice options. They were asked an open-ended question about online privacy and security. Even without prompts, 84% of households mentioned at least one concern. 40% mentioned at least two.
This overall lack of trust is a problem for any online business. At the lowest level, it’s keeping consumers from taking full advantage of the services your business has to offer. What’s worse, is it’s making customers so hyper-aware and fearful that small errors become big problems. For example, an email asking a fraction of your customers to change their passwords could easily escalate into a full-blown data theft scare on Twitter.
Remember, reputation is all about perception. Your company might have the strongest encryption services and the most diligent employees, but it won’t matter if your customers don’t trust you.
Be as transparent as you can be. Live up to your promises and do all you can to protect your customers’ personal information. Then, if you do have a data breach, your customers will be more likely to stand beside you while it’s all sorted out.
To see the rest of the survey results, visit: ntia.doc.gov.