Trust online is hard won, but easily lost

Changing landscape of trust was set against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty.

Over the course of 2020, organisations had to trust their employees to work from home, and consumers had to trust businesses with their information amidst a huge spike in online threats, states a recently released report by Okta, titled The State of Digital Trust – A snapshot of Australians’ trust in an increasingly digital society.

As a society, we also had to put trust in each other, the scientific community, and the government, to make the right decisions to protect our health and prosperity. This changing landscape of trust was set against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty, political upheaval, and soaring privacy expectations among consumers.

More than half of Australian respondents (57 per cent) say they are more cautious about sharing personal information online now than they were before the pandemic.

The report found that trust is hard won, but easily lost, with nearly half of Australian respondents (49 per cent) saying they would permanently stop using a company’s services following a data breach. Further, a significant percentage of Australians (14 per cent) say they don’t trust any digital channel to safely handle their data.

The survey found that when it comes to building trust, consumers care most about the core competencies: service reliability, strong security, and good data handling practices. Respondents also made it clear that trust in their digital world directly impacts purchase decisions, and many will cut ties with brands they lose trust in.

Key Australian findings:

  • How is digital trust won and lost?
    • The top reasons for trustin a digital brand are service reliability (32 per cent) and secure login options such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) (24 per cent)
    • The top reasons for distrust in a digital brand are intentional misuse or sale of personal data (44 per cent) and data breaches (16 per cent)
    • 40 per cent of Australian respondents have lost trust in a company following a data breach
  • What are the biggest reservations about shopping online?
    • Not knowing if the website is legitimate (54 per cent)
    • Concern about a data breach occurring with their personal information (49 per cent)
    • Websites requesting too much personal information (44 per cent)
  • Which channels are most trusted?
    • Government websites (41 per cent)
    • Websites used for work, including search engines and online databases (17 per cent)
    • Workplace communications apps, e.g. Zoom, Slack, Teams, Skype (10 per cent)
    • Established social media platforms, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (5 per cent)

14 per cent say they don’t trust any digital channels to safely handle their data

  • What happens without trust?
    • 77 per cent would not purchase from a company they don’t trust
    • 49 per cent would permanently stop using a company’s services and 41 per cent would delete their account following a data breach
  • How do Australians perceive cyber risk since the COVID-19 pandemic?
    • 57 per cent are more cautious about sharing personal information online since the pandemic
    • Working from home compared to in the office, 45 per cent are more wary of phishing emails, 43 per cent of data breaches, and 37 per cent of deepfake fraud
    • Of all online threats, Australians feel most at risk of identity theft (27 per cent) but password theft is a low concern (10 per cent)
    • Media coverage about online threats increased online caution for 46 per cent of respondents during the pandemic
  • How are respondents’ employers addressing the growth in cyber threats?
    • Implementation of new security applications and technologies, e.g. MFA (39 per cent)
    • Implemented more internal security training (28 per cent)
    • 24 per cent of respondents don’t know and 21 per cent claimed their employer has done nothing





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