How the increase in cyber attacks is changing consumer behavior

If a store you visit often has a cyberattack, you might think someone has searched your wallet. This kind of attack or data breach, and that kind of feeling, is nothing new. The increasing frequency, cost and impact of cyber attacks are new and consumers are noticing. Consumers are more aware than ever of attacks. After all, they directly affect the public more often now, like when attackers steal their personal information from a large corporation.

How do consumers perceive these attacks and the threat of future attacks? How is this new awareness changing consumer behavior and expectations?

Business attacks directly affect consumers

When attackers break into businesses, consumers share the impact. The most measurable impact is in the price of goods and services.

Cyber ​​attacks come with costs in the form of ransomware payments, higher insurance prices, attorney fees to stay in compliance with regulations, operational disruption, back-to-line costs, and other expenses. . These costs are borne by businesses, but ultimately drive up consumer prices.

And the costs of attacks are increasing every year. The average cost of a ransomware attack, for example, was $ 1.85 million in 2020, double the previous year, according to a Sophos survey.

And the future looks bleak in this regard. The costs of cybercrime around the world are expected to increase by 15% per year over the next five years, reaching $ 10.5 trillion per year by 2025, according to a forecast by Cybersecurity Ventures. This is the increase in the cost of doing business, which will affect consumer prices.

The other major impact of corporate cyber attacks on consumers comes from when an attack violates customer data. Many types of attacks expose customers to identity theft and other types of fraud. When attackers sell customer data on the dark web and other criminals buy that data, they can turn one corporate attack into hundreds of others. It can turn into credit card fraud, identity theft, and a world of social engineering scams. Cyber ​​attacks can strike once, but identity and personal data fraud is forever.

Attacks impact consumers. But what do consumers think of cyber attacks?

How do consumers think about cyber attacks

Public awareness of cyber attacks is high. More than three-quarters of consumers are concerned about the privacy of their data, according to a KPMG survey. Along with this worry about the data companies keep comes concerns that that data may be stolen or compromised by a cyber attack.

According to a Norton survey, 63% of consumers fear their data may be stolen. And more and more public media reports on major cyber attacks and their impacts are raising this concern.

The increase in cyber attacks against businesses has heightened consumer concerns over the past year. According to the Norton survey, around 44% feel more exposed to cybercrime than before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This concern exists and is increasing. But how does worry about cyber attacks manifest in the actions of consumers?

Changing consumer behavior and attitudes

One of the main impacts of concerns about cyber attacks is that customers may be wary of brands that have been attacked. And this mistrust scares consumers away.

A majority (59%) of consumers say they will avoid businesses affected by a cyber attack in the past year, according to an Arcserve survey. This means that customers are likely to switch from the attacked company to its competitors in the market.

Consumers are increasingly finding that cyber attacks on businesses that hold their personal data endanger their own cybersecurity. This data gives criminals the information they need to launch phishing attacks and other threats against them. This situation is particularly acute in the financial services sector and of deep concern in the health care sector.

And it’s not just business. Most US citizens are concerned about state sponsored cyber attacks against US financial institutions, national security and defense systems, energy systems, healthcare organizations, government agencies and their own personal information, according to a study by the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts at the University of Chicago and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

What does this mean for the future?

Two upward trends converge. First, consider the increasing frequency, cost and impact of cyber attacks. Add to that the growing awareness, concern and reaction from consumers. The double punch does not bode well for consumer-oriented businesses.

This means that cybersecurity has significant hidden costs that they did not have in the past. These are the cost of lost customers, the reluctance of customers to hand over their personal and financial data, and what could be significant reputational damage from serious cyber attacks.

The cost of lost customers also amplifies other costs by increasing the incentive to make ransomware payments and spend more on cyber insurance, cybersecurity personnel and tools, reputation management, public relations and others. costs. The consumer factor amplifies the impact of cyber attacks.

The good news is, there is a flip side. Consumer concerns also represent an opportunity. There are several ways you can respond to customer anxiety in advance. First, establish very strong customer data security and protection. Plus, communicate to customers exactly why their data is safe.

It’s time to stop assuming that consumers don’t know or care about cybersecurity. They do it and they understand it. That’s why organizations need a good security posture. Combine that with clear, respectful messages, and you’ve got a way forward. You will need it in this new era of cyber threats and with increasing public awareness and concern about the risks.

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