Business

Businesses unprepared for issues around data and security

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A comprehensive study spanning 29 countries around the world has found that more than half of respondents believe their organisation does not consider privacy and protection of personal information a priority.

Released earlier this week, the Edelman Privacy Risk Index, a study of 6,400 corporate privacy and security executives in 29 countries and conducted by the Ponemon Institute shines “a light on the worrying void between business’ privacy practices and consumer expectations about how their personal data is handled”.

Lack of emphasis, lack of resources and lack of transparency are the main points of concern raised by the Index that found businesses are not prepared to manage the potential financial and reputational damage arising from a data security or privacy breach.

Over half, 57%, of respondents believe that their organisation does not consider privacy and the protection of personal information a corporate priority. 61% of companies do not strictly enforce all levels of compliance with security and privacy laws and regulations.

Worryingly, 62% of respondents say that their organisation does not have the technology or training, and 55% the adequate resources, to protect personal information.

Information transparency is also an issue. 57% of respondents believe that their organisation is not transparent about what it does with customer and employee information, while 61% admit to being slow to respond to privacy complaints from consumers and regulators.

The findings from the Index come at a time when companies are under increased pressure to manage personal data more securely and responsibly – and rightly so.

A rather unsettling statistic reveals that 53% of respondents think that a data breach would not adversely affect their reputation or financial position, despite 71% of consumers saying that they would leave a company following such a breach.

Lack of consumer trust

According to research published by Edelman earlier this year, 85% of consumers believe that companies need to take data security and privacy more seriously. Global Practice Chairman at Edelman, Ben Boyd, states “with a growing level of consumer, media and regulatory attention currently focused on privacy, businesses simply cannot afford to risk the reputational and financial damage that may result from a lack of attention to this business critical need. Rather, we see an opportunity for businesses to grow confidence and trust in their brands through thoughtful privacy and data management”.

Edelman’s Privacy Risk Index is complemented by an online benchmarking tool that enables businesses to benchmark their own privacy risk based on the study’s data.

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Darren McCarra
Darren McCarra is co-editor of The Sociable. He has a keen interest in photography, all things mobile, and writing about technology and social media. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.