Australians would speak out against a company data breach: Survey

Unisys Security Index finds 64 per cent would publicly expose companies if their information was compromised

Legal action, exposure and closing accounts are some of the responses Australians would take if their data was compromised by a company, according to a global survey conducted by Unisys.

The Security Index 2011 which was conducted during September with 1,205 people, found 85 per cent of respondents would take their business elsewhere, while 47 per cent would take legal action and 64 per cent would expose the issue in a public forum.

When asked if they would continue dealing with the same company while not using online services, only 24 per cent of Australians said that they would continue doing so.

In addition, 88 per cent of respondents would change passwords on the affected organisation’s website and any others they had concerns about.

Unisys Asia Pacific security program director, John Kendall, said in a statement that these findings place any organisation that holds customer or client information on notice that Australians would be “unforgiving” if their information was accessed—either accidently or as part of an attack.

“There are very real business and financial implications from the loss of customers' trust and confidence,” he said.

“Data security is not just an IT issue but a business issue.”

Out of the 12 countries surveyed in the Index, people in Australia and the US where most likely to expose a data breach issue in a public forum such as Twitter.

According to Kendall, this was interesting given that mandatory data breach notification laws recently considered by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) were not implemented.

In August last year, the ALRC launched the results of its review in a report titled, For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice, which recommended a rewrite of the nation's 20-year-old privacy laws to keep pace with the information age.

“It appears that if there is no formal data breach notification requirement, the public is likely to take matters into their own hands,” he said.

“Social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook has given consumers a new channel to publically vent their anger directly to other consumers.”

People in Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, the UK and US were also surveyed by Unisys.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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