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Security Stands As Top Factor In Digital Brand Confidence

Security ranked alongside marketing and IT ops concerns as important indicators of trust in online sites.

Security is one of the biggest factors in building or eroding consumer confidence in businesses online, according to a new report out by the Ponemon Institute today. Twice as many consumers are likely to distrust a digital brand for poor security as those who get annoyed by stringent security when dealing with shopping, banking, and online services, the report shows.

Commissioned by Neustar, the report found that half of all consumers say security and privacy are important to brand perception. But diving into the numbers, it is clear that consumer behavior is impacted even more heavily by security concerns than customers realize. For example, 69 percent of consumers have left a website because of security concerns.

The study shows that security stands as a big factor in maintaining a good relationship with customers online, standing with nearly equal footing with marketing and IT operations concerns. Among the top three reasons consumers look askance at a brand's website, two of them relate to security.

The survey showed that three out of four consumers report that they do not trust websites that have identity and authentication procedures that appear too easy. And in a crossover with IT operations concerns, 88 percent of consumers report that website downtime causes them to distrust a site. In the latter case, even though 84 percent of consumers have no idea what a DDoS attack is, uptime is a big concern.

Approximately 67 percent of consumers lose trust in a site when pages load slowly and more than three quarters worry about security when site performance is sluggish.

"I think IT and security know, or at least intuit, that their work affects the brand. But especially in larger organizations, where tasks become very specialized and people are easily siloed, our contribution to brand isn’t often spoken about," says Mark Tonneson, CIO and CSO of Neustar. "And we need to remind ourselves: every employee who touches the site is a steward of the brand.”

The report found that 63 percent of consumers distrust brands that have been breached, and even a year after the breach occurred, over 50 percent of people view the brand negatively.

As digital brands start to lean on other channels like mobile, wearable computing, and Internet of Things (IoT) opportunities, online brand identity will only increase in importance, the report warns. The numbers show that security  practitioners will be important partners with the marketing team to ensure that an organization maintains good standing with customers.

"Within the enterprise, marketers can help IT by communicating better and learning about what they do," says Lisa Joy Rosner, CMO for Neustar. "We’ll never be engineers, but we can grasp that it’s smart to test the site before peak traffic events. We can also realize that consumers want security as well as convenience. Asking them to take a few extra seconds to log in helps builds trust in the website, and thus in the brand.”

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