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Data security is paramount for consumers, says Deloitte survey

Close to three-quarters of respondents (73%) would reconsider using a company if it failed to keep their data safe, according to new research from professional services firm Deloitte.

Poor data security was a greater concern to consumers than an organisation charging a higher price than the competition for an equivalent level of service. It was also deemed more of a pertinent issue than businesses exploiting workers overseas and damaging the environment.

The survey of 1,500 consumers is included in the latest Deloitte Consumer Review, 'Consumer data under attack: the growing threat of cybercrime', and shows that one in five UK consumers have had personal details stolen and their bank accounts used to buy goods and services as a result of a cybersecurity breach. Meanwhile, 41% of respondents said they often feel they are being targeted by cybercriminals and 39% had personal data stolen or deleted after having computers affected by a virus or malware – an increase of 13% compared to 2013.

Deloitte's research has been published just weeks after a flurry of data security issues surrounding the retail and consumer goods industry. TalkTalk has said more than 155,000 of its customers had their personal information compromised following a hacking attack last month, and in the same week that the telecoms business was left to apologise to customers it was announced that Marks & Spencer (M&S) and British Gas also suffered data breaches.

M&S chief technology officer Matt Horwood referenced business's fears over cybercrime at an event in Munich, last week. Talking at the Fujitsu Forum 2015, he told delegates: "The world is getting increasingly hostile with technology.

"In retail, as with many industries, it feels like you're becoming a bigger and bigger target and the number of attackers are growing."

But the truth of the matter is that shoppers expect their information to be protected.

Ben Perkins, head of consumer business research at Deloitte, remarked: "Consumers have been very clear in their message to businesses and third party organisations: data security is paramount.

"At the same time, consumers now have greater awareness of cybercrime and internet fraud and are, perhaps understandably, more distrustful of companies looking after their data. This leads to consumers not sharing as much information as they could when spending online."

This week, when the Christmas shopping season is expected to truly get under way, stimulated by an array of deals and special offers on and around Black Friday (27 November), there could be record numbers of people sharing their personal details on online retail websites in the UK. Visa Europe estimates that £721 million will be spent online on Friday, as part of a £1.9 billion spending spree across store and web channels.

Perkins added: "As we enter the height of the online retail season, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday set to break more records, consumers must remain vigilant and technologically-savvy when it comes to protecting their personal information online."

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Deloitte UK