Are consumers becoming apathetic about data breaches?
Complacency is an immobilizing condition that can creep up on people at any time, whether a situation is improving or trending down over time. This holds true whether you’re talking about global politics or cybersecurity. In the latter case, as The Motley Fool’s Daniel Kline points out, consumers do not seem to have met the latest mega breaches with the same level of concern as was given to the initial ground breakers. The Target breach, for instance, resulted in that company’s stock dropping, which was also reflected by customers taking their business elsewhere.
Compare this to later breaches (some of which were even larger, like the Anthem incident), and the tremors are quieter. After T-Mobile announced its recent breach, its stock only dropped $0.04, and Mr. Kline speculates that many of the 2 to 3 million customers who received a text alert probably deleted it after a quick glance.
If true, it would be a logical, if troubling development. Having been bombarded for the past several with headline after headline of huge data breaches across every sector and industry imaginable, have consumers really grown numb to new mega breaches? Has apathy gained too much ground in this perpetual conflict? After all, a good chunk of the alerts I’m getting this week are about T-Mobile; how might others be reacting to the constant deluge?
Maybe people don’t care as much as they used to. Maybe they do. I wonder, instead, about another possible factor that Kline highlights. While a few million customers were affected by this breach, it turns out no credit card information or passwords were stolen, so it’s not as urgent as it might otherwise have been. Are consumers aware of this? Perhaps, rather than apathetic, what people have become is more savvy. Maybe the lessons of the data breach have started to sink in, making people better able to discern the severity of an incident. The T-Mobile case is one where minimal action (changing your password and monitor your account) seems to be required, and maybe people know that.
That’s an optimistic view, of course. Whether it’s disinterest or knowledge, well, I’m not aware of any studies that have been conducted on this yet, but if anyone does know of one, please feel free to share it with me. Either way, never let yourself ignore a breach that put your personal data at risk, no matter how common such stories may have become. That is our position here, as it always has been.