Consumers Refuse to Change Shopping Habits Despite Data Breach Concerns
In recent news stories, top retailer like Home Depot and Target have been heavily impacted by data breaches, and the bad news is that these are only a few of the many retailers who have been targeted by hackers of the years. This problem continues to be prevalent, and most consumers are well aware of these data breaches. Nonetheless, there is a growing trend for consumers to become even more connected. This implies that consumers are simply refusing to change their habits despite the concern about data breaches and the impact that a data breach may have on them.
The Increased Connectivity of Today’s Consumers
It is widely known that today’s consumers are more connected than ever. In a world where more than 1.75 billion people own a smartphone, consumers of all ages regularly tote access to their bank accounts, email and more with them via their phone. They have apps on their smartphones as well as other mobile devices that may enable them to raise and lower the garage door or to adjust the thermostat at home. They can transfer money from account to account or pay their bills while sitting on a park bench, and they can buy movie tickets for the next showing of a blockbuster while sitting at a restaurant on a date.
A Growing Trend
This trend in connectivity is only expected to increase. The new wearable devices, such as connected wristwatches and glasses will add to the connectivity of today’s consumers. More than that, businesses are jumping on the bandwagon known as the Internet of Things. More and more companies are trying to find ways to connect their own products and services to the Internet through the development of apps and other programs. The bottom line is that today’s consumers are indeed connected and likely will become even more connected in the near future.
The Awareness of Data Breaches
With this growing trend toward connectivity, it almost seems as though consumers are not aware of the risks associated with data breaches, identity theft and other related concerns. However, in a 2014 survey conducted by ISA CA IT Risk/Reward, approximately 94 percent of American consumers surveyed were aware of the recent data breaches with major retailers like Home Depot and Target. More than that, approximately 75 percent of those surveyed say that they have become more concerned about their personal data privacy with retailers within the last year.
The Refusal of Consumers to Change Their Habits
Given these statistics, it may be reasonable to think that consumers would make some changes to their buying habits or to their use of technology in an effort to increase their level of security and privacy, but this is not necessarily the case. The fact is that only 45 percent of those responded have taken even the basic effort to change a security feature like a password or PIN in an effort to protect themselves. More than that, less than 38 percent have made any change to their buying habits. This means that the majority of those who have been surveyed about breaches within the last year have made any noticeable changes to curb or alter their spending behavior.
A clear case in point is the 2014 increase in accounting and tax pros who feel safe when they efile 1099 forms on behalf of their clients. However, those professionals using the platform to submit tax forms are still relatively small in number compared to the overall markets.
Despite the IRS’s insistence that the data is safe and their servers possess the latest technology to keep that info secure, the market is still hesitant to adopt e-filing completely. Speak to any tax professional – already using the e-file system – who is about to file 1099 misc online for their client, and they’ll probably say that they believe in the IRS’s safeguards.
However, for every one of these early adopters, there are 20 or more tax pros who still believe in paper filings, for whatever reason. Only time will tell if data breach events continue to cause concern in the second group, and don’t affect the first set of individuals.
What IT Professionals Have to Say
Consumers who fail to make changes to protect their own security and privacy are essentially leaving their security and privacy in the hands of the retailers that they do business with. The unfortunate truth, however, is that the majority of the IT professionals who have recently been surveyed have stated that their companies are not yet prepared to accommodate the Internet of Things and the growing trend to use wearable devices. More than one-third of Americans have a smart TV and more than 27 percent are connected in their cars. There is an expectation that the Internet of Things will increase more significantly as the trend toward wearable increases, and it is simply not feasible to expect IT departments to be ready to accommodate this growing trend when many have stated that they simply are not ready.
The Concern About What This Means For the Future
The fact is that many consumers believe that they will adopt wearable connective devices in the near future, including in the workplace, and IT professionals are not prepared for this wave. In fact, the recent data breaches indicate that companies today are not able to fully able to protect consumers from data breaches with the current level of technology. This means that consumers simply must take action on their own by changing passwords and PINs for their own security from time to time and by taking other similar actions. They should also monitor safety and security concerns with some retails and make decisions to only make online purchases from retailers that go the extra mile to keep their data and private information safe.
In the highly technological environment that we live in today, consumers and businesses alike must be aware of the risks associated with hacking, data breaches and more. More than that, consumers and businesses must both take steps to minimize these risks. Their efforts must continually advance as the technology that is being used advances and as the efforts of hackers and cyber criminals’ advances. There likely is no surefire way to completely eliminate this risk in the technological environment that we live in, but there are efforts that can be made regularly to minimize the risks.
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