A new report released by data privacy and security group Morrison and Foerster indicates the main privacy and security concerns of customers.

Don’t Ignore the Privacy and Security Concerns of Customers

If you ignore the privacy and security concerns of customers it is likely to have a significant effect on your bottom line.

A new report recently released by Morrison and Foerster suggests that consumers are even more concerned about their privacy than four years ago. Furthermore, many will take action if they feel their privacy is not protected. The survey indicates more than one in three consumers have switched companies they do business with due to privacy concerns, and one in five would switch after a breach of their personal data.

The company conducted a survey on 900 U.S. consumers in November, 2015. 35% of respondents said they had taken the decision switch companies or not buy products as a result of privacy concerns. When it came to a breach of personal information, 22% of individuals said they had taken the decision to stop purchasing products or had switched services as a result.

According to the report, more educated individuals and higher earners were the most likely to stop doing business with a company as a result of a data breach. 28% of respondents educated to college degree level or higher said they would make the switch after a data breach compared to 18% of individuals without a college degree.

For the upper income bracket, 33% said they stopped buying as a result of a data breach. That figure fell to 28% for the middle income bracket, and 17% for the low income bracket.

When the company conducted the survey back in 2011, 54% of consumers said that privacy concerns affected their decision to make a purchase. In 2015, 82% of consumers said that privacy concerns influenced their purchasing decisions.

Companies are not perfect, but consumers are intolerant of data breaches

In 2011, 16% of consumers believed no business was perfect, and were therefore likely to overlook privacy issues and data breaches, whereas in 2015 the figure had fallen to 9%.

The greatest concern is now the risk of identity theft, with the percentage of individuals worried about thieves stealing their identity jumping from 24% in 2011 to 52% in 2015.

The survey shows that not only must companies do more to earn the trust of consumers, they must also do more, and be seen to be doing more, to safeguard the data they store on consumers, especially Social Security numbers, passwords and personal IDs, payment card information, and user IDs, passwords and account information.

How to improve your security posture and prevent data breaches

It is essential to implement multi-layered security systems to prevent cyberattacks. For businesses, one of the biggest problems is how to stop employees from inadvertently compromising a network. Security training is therefore essential. Employees must be advised of security risks and given regular training to help avoid scams, malicious websites, and told how to identify phishing emails.

It is essential that risky behavior is eradicated. Internet and BYOD policies must be introduced that cover the acceptable uses of the devices, and the sites that are permitted to be accessed at work. However, not all employees will adhere to those policies. For maximum protection it is strongly advisable to implement a solution that reduces the risk of malware downloads.

A web filtering solution is essential I this regard. A web filter can block malicious websites and reduce the risk of malware infections, while also being configured to protect end users from malvertising.

A patch management policy must be implemented and software updates installed promptly to prevent zero-day security vulnerabilities from being exploited.

Anti-virus and anti-malware software must be used. A different engine for servers and end users is a wise precaution to maximize the probability of malware and viruses from being installed.

It is now an inevitability that a data breach will be suffered at some point in time, but reducing the likelihood of that happening is essential. It is important to pay attention to the privacy and security concerns of customers. Show consumers how dedicated you are to protecting their privacy, and implement a wide range of controls to prevent a data breach and you will reduce the risk of losing customers to better protected organizations.