Clients say they'll take their money and run if service hacked – poll

Data breaches could cost firms business, Brits tell survey

Further evidence has emerged that hacked firms might subsequently suffer a customer exodus. After TalkTalk's famous data breach, 101,000 of its customers walked.

Almost half (48 per cent) of the 1,000 Brits questioned by Onepoll claimed they would cancel accounts if a provider of theirs suffered a data breach. In addition, a 35 per cent said they would actively avoid choosing a company that had been hacked before if they were switching provider.

Alex Mathews, EMEA technical manager at Positive Technologies, the cyber security firm that commissioned the survey, commented: "As people wake up to the sensitivity of the data stored about them by the companies which provide their phones, banking, healthcare, leisure and more, they become ever more protective.

"These organisations are responsible for collecting and protecting massive amounts of data, yet the last 12 months have proven they can fall prey to hackers. TalkTalk, Yahoo!, Three and even Tesco Bank are all respectable brands that have been compromised in some way, with customers left feeling violated. In the end, they vote with their feet and walk away. It takes a lot of time and money to acquire new customers, but only seconds to lose them."

The study also found that 45 per cent of respondents said they would claim for damages if their personal details were stolen, with a further 24 per cent saying they would join with others to bring a class action. Of course, what UK consumers say to someone in a survey is not necessarily what will happen in practice. Class lawsuits are far more common in the US and some have come as a direct result of security breaches.

For example, Ronald Schwartz launched a lawsuit against Yahoo! on behalf of all its US customers shortly after it copped to a historic breach affecting millions. Security breaches can also have a direct financial impact, as evidenced by the £2.5m stolen from 9,000 customer accounts at Tesco Bank at the start of November.

A recent 54-country, 24,000-respondent survey by the Internet Society found that 40 per cent of users would avoid doing business with a company that had suffered a data breach. The group has tabled a number of recommendations on resolving security problems, as previously reported. ®

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