Cyber Monday Tests Online Trust

online shopping

It’s Cyber Monday. Do you know how safe your data is?

Increased holiday spending activity makes this season a prime time for hackers to try to steal shoppers’ credit card and personal data. More than 122 U.S. consumers plan to shop online on Cyber Monday, according to estimates from the National Retail Federation. But large-scale data breaches are eroding internet users’ trust and can impact their online activity, according to a recent report by the Internet Society, a global non-profit internet advocacy group.

In the U.S., more than a quarter of online households have avoided buying goods or services online because of privacy or security concerns, according to 2016 data from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration cited in the Internet Society report. And over half of American consumers say they are very unlikely to do business with companies that experience a breach of financial information, according to a recent survey by SafeNet, a data protection company also cited in the society’s report.

In 2013, Target Corp. took a hit to its consumer trust reputation when cyber hackers broke into brick-and-mortar store systems to steal 110 million credit card and customer records in the weeks following Thanksgiving.

Organizations are spending more on preventing data breaches, but this has not yet noticeably lowered the number of or cost impact of breaches, the society’s report said. The average data breach now costs $4 million, up 29 percent from 2013, according to a 2016 IBM study.

The society’s report recommended more research into the financial impact to consumers, who ultimately pay the price of a data breach. Dealing with the hassles and cost of identity theft is something no shopper wants during the holiday season.