As the Internet and cloud computing become nearly ubiquitous, so do recent strains of data security malfeasance and intrusions by unscrupulous hackers. These days, data security is quickly becoming a make or break element of any online sales pitch, recurring revenue stream and more.
In just the last few months alone we have seen widely reported stories of: Lifelock being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for failing to put proper data security protocols in place, a massive data hack of the Office of Personnel Management that may have included the personal information from as many as 18 million people, and a hack of Ashley Madison (a website advertising itself as a place to find an affair online) that may include as many as 30 Million user profiles.
Given the widespread loss of private data, in conjunction with recent credit card data hacks that have impacted the security of large retailers like Target and HomeDepot along with the government sponsored privacy intrusions made public by Edward Snowden – having any level of data privacy is becoming an increasingly significant concern for many consumers.
A recent Pew Internet report found that: “93% of adults say that being in control of who can get information about them is important; 74% feel this is “very important,” while 19% say it is “somewhat important. 90% say that controlling what information is collected about them is important—65% think it is “very important” and 25% say it is “somewhat important. At the same time, Americans also value having the ability to share confidential matters with another trusted person. Nine-in-ten (93%) adults say this ability is important to them, with 72% saying it is “very important” and 21% saying it is “somewhat important.”
In the face of so much proof that data is currently hackable, even when backed by government agencies, huge corporations, million dollar guarantees or mega-corporation IT departments – it becomes increasingly clear that consumer experience will either need to change the expectations of the marketplace, or will have a negative impact on the bottom line of many companies both online and offline as well.
Some have argued for harsher penalties against hackers, others dream of instituting new protocols that are harder to hack, and some seem resigned to the notion that the public should simple accept the fact that modern world conveniences come with an inherent loss of data security. The most likely outcome will be some combination of all three premises, with a long period of transition along the way toward any meaningful resolution.
In the meantime, companies are already taking smart steps to market their brands by adding trust seals from companies like WebsiteSecure.org, TrustE and Verisign. While adding highly visible support with live chat windows, toll free call centers and more. Now more than ever, showing your customers that their security matters to you and that you are doing all you can, even though it is confined within the limits of what is possible, is an essential part of maximizing your revenue and their satisfaction.