Why customers don’t trust your organisation with their personal data

An ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) report has found that 45% of customers don’t trust organisations with their personal data.

This is hardly surprising, given the constant news stories about cyber attacks and organisations mishandling personal data. In the past few days alone, Facebook has been embroiled in another security incident, Uber was fined $148 million (about £114 million) for covering up a data breach, Bupa was fined £175,000 and the Conservative Party disclosed a security vulnerability on its app.

And this only covers stories that made national news. For every big data breach, there are dozens of smaller cases, such as the compromise of 65,000 Gloucestershire residents’ personal data and the University of the Highlands and Islands’ accidental disclosure of 132 students’ email addresses.


Customers’ lack of trust has real-world consequences, with the ICO reporting a 15% increase in data protection complaints and a 5% increase in freedom of information complaints. If someone submits a complaint (which you can do on the ICO website), the office will investigate the organisation, ask it to solve the problem and offer advice.

It’s possible – probable, in fact – that the rise in customers’ complaints actually correlates with improved security practices. After all, the increase in complaints doesn’t necessarily mean organisations are worse at protecting data – only that people are more aware of the importance of information security. They are better equipped to spot when organisations are doing something wrong, and they know who to talk to about it.

Likewise, the dangers of data breaches won’t have escaped organisations’ attention, and almost all organisations have combated the threat by strengthening their defence measures. The ICO’s report evidences this, saying it “received a huge increase in telephone, live chat and written queries from the public and organisations, with new telephone services for small organisations and for self-reported breaches. In the final quarter we had 30,000 more calls than in the previous three months”.

Get #BreachReady

Organisations that want to improve their information security practices and get customers to trust them should take our #BreachReady quiz. Our quiz will give you a breach readiness score followed by a free personalised report and a detailed summary of your answers, offering advice on how you can make sure your organisation is more prepared.

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