Data

Businesses including banks and financial services institutions must build public confidence in their ability to store and protect Australian citizens’ personal information, according to the latest Unisys Security Index.

The research found that 58 per cent of Australians are extremely or very concerned about unauthorised access to or misuse of personal information, while a further 55 per cent are extremely or very concerned about other people obtaining or using their credit/debit card details.

The Unisys Security Index is a global study that measures the attitudes of Australians on a wide range of issues related to national, personal, financial and Internet security, and showed that many consumers are still concerned over identity and financial theft.

“In an era where data breaches have become part of the daily news cycle, consumer confidence in the ability of organisations, including banks and retail businesses, to protect their personal and financial data has eroded away,” says John Kendall, director for national and border security programs, Unisys.

UK experience

Research indertaken by RFi Group based on the UK experience of open banking found almost 60 per cent of UK consumers agreed that their privacy was more important to them than accessing better products and services.

“Here the banks have an advantage; on any given Sunday a consumer trusts their bank to hold and maintain the privacy and security of their personal information better than any other organisation,” RFi Group managing director of consulting Alan Shields said.

Closer to home, RFi Group research found that Australian banks are the most trusted institutions in terms of data security and privacy regardless of age – with banks outranking technology and even government agencies when it came to trust and privacy issues.

Shields acknowledged that banks with foresight are already preparing to operate in an open banking environment, with open APIs.

“On the consumer front, if we solve privacy and security concerns, then account aggregation is clearly an attractive driver of consent among younger consumers and it is here that the banks must carefully choose their positioning,” he said.

Data breach

However, there are plenty of examples of companies getting it wrong and less than 12 months ago Australia recorded its largest ever data breach when the Red Cross Blood Service lost over half a million personal and medical files of Australian citizens.

“High-profile security breaches have rattled the Australian public and highlighted the vulnerabilities in business implemented technology. Security breaches don’t just impact an organisation’s ability to deliver services, the negative repercussions of a data breach can change the way customers think about or trust the business,” added Kendall.

Previous Unisys research from 2011 revealed 85 per cent of Australians said that they would stop dealing with an organisation if their data was compromised.

“Banks, retailers and governments wanting to move more of their transactions online can use innovative security measures, such as multi-factor identification or biometric technology, as a point of difference and position themselves as safe organisations to do business with and regain consumer trust,” concluded Kendall.