Consumer confidence in e-commerce hit by data security breaches

Security breaches from retailers, banks and public sector bodies mean consumers are becoming skittish about the potential dangers of e-commerce.

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Security breaches from retailers, banks and public sector bodies mean consumers are becoming skittish about the potential dangers of e-commerce.

That was one of the findings of a survey of more than 780 people on consumer privacy conducted by privacy research organisation the Ponemon Institute and security firm Vontu.

The survey comes after a spate of recent data security breaches, including those at the Halifaxbuilding society and Marks & Spencer.

The survey found that more than six out of 10 participants – 62% – had been notified by an organisation holding their private data that some of their information had been compromised in a security breach. Of these, 84% felt "anxiety" over the data loss.

Data security breaches made customers wary of using their bank cards or social security numbers online, the survey found, with 43% of those who had already suffered a data loss saying they would not use a debit or credit card to make a purchase with a new web retailer. Only 32% of consumers who had not been affected by data loss felt the same.

"Our research clearly shows that data breaches are affecting consumers' trust in the organizations with which they share their data and, ultimately, their buying behaviour," said Larry Ponemon, chairman of the Ponemon Institute.

Of those surveyed, 62% said they would be more upset with a company if data was lost due to negligence rather than if it had been stolen.

The five categories of private data that generated the most concern among consumers were medical records, pharmaceutical history, credit card and debit card information and social security numbers. The majority of respondents also said they would be most concerned if it was a health care provider, pharmacy or employer who lost their private information.

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