You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Here’s the No. 1 issue consumers want companies to fix today

MarketWatch logo MarketWatch 11/14/2018 Kari Paul
a person standing in front of a building: Consumers are fed up with how companies handle their data.© Getty Images Consumers are fed up with how companies handle their data.

Consumers want their data to be safer.

Data privacy is the No. 1 issue people want companies to address today, with 65% saying it is personally important to them a company makes a positive difference on the issue, according to a recent survey published by market-research firm Harris Poll and public relations firm Finn Partners.

The survey examined the “social good” reputation of the 100 most visible companies in the world and found employees, policy makers, investors, and the public are not impressed with most of them.

Consumers are increasingly socially aware and want their companies to be pay more attention to protecting their data and learn from the litany of recent privacy scandals, said Amy Terpeluk, senior partner at Finn Partners.

Privacy as a major concern was followed by access to health care, supporting veterans, education, job creation, and gender equality in order of importance, according to the survey.

These dramatic results show companies can no longer afford to overlook consumer privacy, said Nathan Wenzler, senior director of cybersecurity at Seattle accounting and wealth management firm Moss Adams.

“Seeing survey results like this affirms what many of us in the information security community have known for years: Security and privacy isn’t just a technology matter, it’s a business matter,” he said.

The average cost of a data breach per company is $3.86 million globally, according to a study published in July by IBM (IBM)  Security. This includes a number of hidden costs like lost business, negative impact on reputation, and time spent on recovery.

Companies hit with “mega breaches” can stand to lose even more. A company that loses 1 million records will spend $40 million recovering and a company that loses 50 million records will spend $350 million. The 2017 Equifax (EFX) breach, which impacted 147 million customers in the U.S., cost the company $300 million in recurring costs.

This growing demand for security is not new, said David Ginsburg, vice president of marketing at Santa Clara-Calif.-based cybersecurity firm Cavirin. “Companies are not doing enough, and it isn’t just people in the security field that are aware,” he said.

He said the government is increasingly cracking down on privacy lapses, as evidenced by the recent California Consumer Privacy Act — a law passed in California in November that guarantees users the right to know what data is being collected to them and why. It also allows them to opt out of sale of their data to third parties.

Many privacy advocates have expressed demands for a U.S. equivalent of Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation law, which sets basic framework for data management and privacy companies must follow.

People are demanding simple protections, said Justin Antonipillai, founder and chief executive officer of WireWheel and former Acting U.S. Under Secretary for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Obama administration.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From MarketWatch

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon