Brits want data breaches criminalised

That’s the main finding of research into consumer attitudes towards online security, where four out of five people also don not trust how organisations handle data.

Customers don't trust organisations to properly handle their personal data, and believe data breaches should be a offence punishable by law.

Nearly four out of five people surveyed said they thought their personal information is insecure in the hands of the companies who hold that data.

And whopping 89 per cent of more than 1,600 individuals and businesses questioned thought that reckless or repeated data breaches should be a criminal matter and punishable by imprisonment, with four out of five people saying it should be a one strike and you're out' rule when it comes to data loss.

The research, commissioned by security giant Symantec, also revealed that a further 75 per cent are concerned by how much information companies hold online or off about them.

So much so that 93 per cent of people said they would not provide personal details to a company that had past problems with data breaches.

"These statistics are very concerning for businesses, particularly in the current, unstable market condition," said John Brigden, Symantec senior vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). "But almost 60 per cent of companies said it would make it a lot harder to attract new customers once their reputation had been tarnished."

The majority of companies polled (76 per cent) also said they would expect to lose customers if a data loss or breach occurs, with about half of them expecting the losses to be immediate.

Brigden stressed every time that every time someone accesses the internet, to surf, shop or stay in touch with friends, they are giving away our personal information. "Today we all have an enormous digital footprint' whether we realise it or not," he said. "And clearly people are concerned how businesses and government handle that data."

The survey echoes the findings of research also released today by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) on how well consumers manage their own personal data.

The ICO research found 40 per cent of Brits would hand over their sensitive information to a company without knowing if it was trustworthy. By the same token, the Symantec survey discovered 73 per cent of respondents were not checking what happened to their credit card details when the card leaves their sight and 18 per cent were not verifying the security of websites they use.

Like the ICO research, this survey concluded that UK consumers were more interested in price and value than security when it comes to giving out their information.

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