Aussies walk away from brands that don’t protect them from cyber threats

Business leaders know it takes years to build a brand. But the loss of trust or reputation can happen overnight. And a cyberattack that exposes customer data or even simply paints the company in a negative light can cause catastrophic loss of trust in an instant.

Leading email security and cyber resilience company Mimecast has launched its inaugural Brand Trust Report, showing the impact of cyber attacks on consumer trust and how it is playing out for brands across the fiercely competitive digital economy.

Surveying 9,000 respondents globally, and featuring insights from 1,000 Australian adults, it highlights that brands need to understand and respond to the cyber threat landscape.

The report gets on the front foot before the loss of consumer trust and confidence becomes a critical problem to the business and bottom line.

Key data from the Mimecast Brand Trust Report

  • 59% agree that they would stop spending money with their favorite brand if they fell victim to a phishing attack involving that brand
  • Over a third of Australians trust their favorite brands, with 39% not hesitating to open an email from the brand they regularly use
  • Almost eight out of ten consumers (78%) expect their favorite brands to ensure their services are safe to use, be it websites, email, or any other form of contact with consumers.

In understanding cyber threats, it’s vital to see that over three-quarters of respondents agree that anyone can be a victim of cybercrime and they understand the risks involved.

Cyberattacks pose a huge threat to brand loyalty

But the research shows that Australian consumers are besieged by cyber attacks.

59% say they would stop spending money with their favorite brand, if they fell victim to a phishing attack involving that brand, with 60% saying that they would lose trust in their favorite brand if they disclosed personal information to a spoofed version of their website.

These are two of the findings in a global Brand Trust Report by leading email security and cyber resilience company Mimecast, including responses from 1,000 Australian consumers.

Those participating in a global survey of 9,000 adults across the Benelux, Nordics, United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa, Australia and the Middle East.

Any business or brand with an online presence simply cannot ignore this survey’s findings.

The onus is on brands to secure communications and websites as 78% of Australians expect services to be safe to use and over two-thirds said the buck stops with the brand.

Brands responsible for data protection

Australians believe it’s the brand’s responsibility to protect itself from email impersonation and from fake versions of its website as reported by 68% and 70% of respondents respectively.

In a digital-first world, having good products and customer service is no longer enough for companies as they now also have the mandate to keep people’s data safe and take steps to prevent them from falling victim to cyber-attacks involving their brand name.

What are the top factors that negatively impact consumers’ perception of a brand?

Over a third of Australians said brands refusing to compensate customers, after data or money had been lost due to a cyber security incident, was top of the list.

Brand responsibility for customer deception, loss of money after interacting with a fake website or phishing email was also of concern. Mimecast surveyed Australians on trusted industries and the findings reveal that when it comes to trust, industries aren’t created equal.

The pandemic increased phishing concerns in Australia

In Australia, the top three most trusted industries are online banking, healthcare and utilities.

And in terms of the most leveraged for phishing attacks not surprisingly were delivery services, online banking and entertainment services. During the pandemic lockdown, more Australians were shopping online, as such delivery services were targets for cyber attacks.

Online banking is a trusted industry and yet, most phishing emails are related to it.

Trust in this industry is due to the role of banks in communicating with clients about threats and scams, providing advice on what to watch for and how clients can protect themselves.

Cybercriminals have become a lot more sophisticated, making it a lot harder to distinguish real emails from fake ones and as a result which brand messages to trust.

And it turns out, cyber attackers exploit the trust consumers place in brands too.

Since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, cybercriminals have worked tirelessly to expose the vulnerabilities that come with widespread remote working.

Mimecast’s State of Email Security 2021 report revealed that email-based security threats surged by 66% in Australia since the start of the pandemic.

70% of businesses expecting to be harmed by an email-borne attack

These latest Brand Trust findings return equally worrying results, and it seems no country is immune, with consistently high averages across all the surveyed countries.

In Australia, 77% of respondents have received phishing emails in their inboxes, and 49% of respondents were directed to a spoofed website from a web search.

To this end, therefore, disclosing personal information to online scammers and losing money are the biggest fears that consumers face when it comes to engaging with brands.

Not only will consumers stop trusting the involved brands, but will stop spending money regardless of whether it’s their favorite brand, one they regularly use, or familiar with.

Garrett O’Hara, Field Chief Technologist in Asia Pacific for Mimecast. He is a seasoned leader of technical sales teams in the Asia Pacific region with experience of growing new-to-country businesses.