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Consumers walk away from business websites asking for their data

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Our understanding of online danger is higher than ever before. Consumers have started to worry about the risk of their personal details being compromised each time they input data into a business website. Research by 1&1 Internet Ltd, involving more than 1,500 adults, showed that 25 per cent of respondents have walked away from using or buying from a website all together, due to fears of the level of security.

More than half of UK consumers now recognise that threats such as malware and viruses, change by the hour. As the internet evolves, so does cyber crime. However, smaller businesses with a website using self-coding or open-source applications will benefit. They have been able to reassure online customers that their website is well protected.

Today, most transactions are being conducted over the internet, requiring consumers to type in sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and identifiable data. A website attitude study by 1&1 of 1,551 Britons, finds that their concerns and expectations for website security are increasing exponentially. In fact, one in five of those surveyed either had their own, or know someone who has had their details stolen as a result of using a business website.

Taking this into consideration, it is unsurprising that there is an impressive level of consumer awareness nowadays about protecting their data. Some 55 per cent understand that websites can capture data (such as contact details or billing data), and can be perfect targets for cyber crime.

Small businesses are more likely to be targets of malicious online activity in comparison to larger stores. According to one in four consumers, this concern is clearly inhibiting Britons from fully supporting SMEs. Only 11 per cent believe SMEs to be fully protected. Such an understanding has clearly impacted consumer behaviour, as many now strive to abandon online transactions or enquiries.

Companies need to take the appropriate steps to securing their websites. As the trend now shows, 46 per cent of consumers admit they are likely to spend more with a business that shows it has enhanced its website security.

But what actions would consumers take should their personal data ever be compromised? Most would expect to feel distressed and negative about that company as a result. More than half never use that company again, while 62 per cent go on to share their experiences with others. Less than a quarter of consumers are willing to report it to the press and 28 per cent feel more inclined to explore legal action against the business involved.

There is potential for costly and long lasting damage to a business’ hard-earned revenue and brand reputation.

As the majority of business websites now capture users’ data, every business with an online presence needs protection. The use of open-source applications and self-coding can allow customisation for designs, however, security can be an issue. While websites built with vendor-managed templates involve very little risk of compromise, as they leverage a professional system to create, update and protect the design, self-coded websites carry more risk.

Mistakes as simple as forgetting to close parentheses when entering code, or not applying updates to open-source applications, can help facilitate malicious activity from hackers. 

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