War vs data security, which is a bigger concern today?

New IBM study says people want the government to step in, given that businesses have not been able to do enough to secure their data.
23 April 2018

IBM’s survey says data security concerns keeps your customers up at night. Source: Shutterstock

Data security is a hot topic across the world. While many would argue that the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica scandal made data security a hot topic, the fact is, it was a long time coming.

In April 2016, for example, when the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was announced, businesses were given about two years to comply. However, it seems that a majority of organizations, both in the EU and outside, have neglected to assess its impact on their operations.

Coming into effect next month, assessments by various consulting firms suggest that businesses are struggling to comply – and one of the primary reasons they’re paying heed to the new regulation is because the penalty for non-compliance is the higher of the two figures: EUR 20 million (US$24.55 million) or 4 percent of annual turnover.

In fact, it’s come to a point where customers are worried about their data and feel threatened by the very real possibility of damage it could do in the world hands.

According to a recent study by IBM, a majority of the public is more concerned about cybersecurity than it was five years ago and more than half are more worried about cybersecurity than war.

The study also found that a majority of individuals across the globe think it would be appropriate for the government to step in given that businesses have not been able to do enough. Soon, their voice will be reflected in their purchasing decisions as well, as cybersecurity trumps confidence in leadership and corporate social responsibility.

“It’s not just an under-the-hood operational function, it is part of how companies are judged in the consumer marketplace,” said the report.

A majority of citizens believe that handling external cybersecurity threats well is more important managing data internally. Unfortunately, while a majority of the US public sees companies’ ability to keep data private as absolutely key, it has little trust in companies doing so.

In fact, trends suggest that cybersecurity will soon form a significant part of the customer experience for brands, and hence, they need to invest in top-notch security now.


The significant gap between data privacy and consumer trust. Source: PRNewsfoto / IBM

It’s not just Facebook that has customer data

After Mark Zuckerberg, the 33-year-old CEO of Facebook was grilled for two days earlier this month at the congressional hearing, people are thinking about who else has their data. Top names that pop into their heads? Google and Twitter.

Google Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai. Source: REUTERS/Jason Lee

According to Bloomberg, Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune said he’s considering another public hearing on data privacy and spoke with representatives of Alphabet Inc.’s Google last week, suggesting the company send CEO Sundar Pichai to answer questions.

The media outlet also quoted Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, who originally sought to schedule all three major social media company CEOs before Zuckerberg became the focus of the inquiries, saying he may seek testimony from Pichai and Twitter Inc.’s Jack Dorsey.

Grassley sent them letters the day of the Zuckerberg hearing asking about their data privacy practices and actions to counter foreign interference in U.S. elections. He told them he wanted answers by April 25.

Recently, a story in the Guardian attempted to find how much data Google collected and the author was astonished by what was found. The piece’s investigation proved that the internet giant knows where you’ve been, what you’ve searched for and deleted from your search history, all the apps you use, your YouTube history – among other things.

There’s no doubt that citizens worry about their data and its security, but it’s also time for companies to take serious action. Failure to do so will cause customers to leave, as indicated by IBM’s survey.