Consumer Trust Challenges Amid Technology Enthusiasm in a Digitalized World

Consumer Trust Challenges Amid Technology Enthusiasm in a Digitalized World
  • The majority of the population is worried about the security of their data when using digital services.
  • Cybersecurity breaches are on the rise with the global annual cost of cybercrime predicted to reach $9.5 trillion USD in 2024.
  • Honeywell and Dahua Technology among the companies fostering cybersecurity trust across its customer base.

A report exploring consumer trust in the digital society has warned that there is a problematic gap between enthusiasm for digital technology and worries about security, to varying degrees across surveyed countries.  

Approximately 77% of respondents, declared that they are either ‘worried a lot’ or ‘worried a little’ about the security of their data when using digital services.

This warrants attention in light of the extent of global digitalization.

Just a few decades ago, the internet was confined to bulky, stationary personal computers. Today, connectivity permeates diverse environments, from restaurants to airports to schools and hospitals, and it is not just confined to the two-thirds of the population that own mobile devices. Rather, it extends to the streets, vehicles, traffic systems and even our homes.

Ensuring security does not only hinge on trusting that banks and financial institutions are keeping our money and data safe; nowadays, it even extends to potential privacy vulnerabilities in our light bulbs.

Widespread digitalization has no doubt increased the quality of life in some respects, but it has also exposed individuals to sophisticated and prolific cyber threats and online harms. As an example, in April 2020, Google reported more than 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19 in just one week. Most recently, IT Governance, a global provider of cyber risk and privacy management solutions, declared that in 2023, there was a total of 2,814 cyber incidents and over 8 billion breached records worldwide.

Overall, large-scale, well-publicised security breaches are on the rise, suggesting that they are not only increasing in number but in severity as well. With the global annual cost of cybercrime predicted to reach $9.5 trillion USD in 2024, it comes as no surprise that there is a lack of trust in digital technology among people.

Citizens and consumers alike are advocating for companies and tech innovators to reconsider their values concerning privacy, data use and inclusion. Unfortunately, many companies seem ill-equipped to offer the necessary assurances sought by customers.

Last year, PwC found that only 10% of executives feel prepared to comply with cybersecurity transparency requirements. At the same time, a KPMG survey revealed that more than 75% of executives believe new technologies such as AI and Machine Learning raising troubling questions regarding cybersecurity and ethical implications.

Alarmingly, such a distrust has the potential to spill over into societal institutions as well. According to the World Economic Forum, a widespread decline of trust in technology threatens to cascade and further erode confidence in both businesses and government bodies.

Technology leaders need to recognize the importance of security, reliability, good accountability and oversight, inclusivity, ethics, and responsibility. Only by prioritizing these objectives and striving to uphold the values and expectations of individuals can we endeavor to restore digital trust.

As a company, Honeywell has placed emphasis on these aspects. In 2023, they launched ‘Cyber Insights’ bringing a customer-tailored approach offering insights into security events, vulnerabilities and active threats. Cyber Insights is designed to help organizations strengthen their cyber resilience and respond faster to incidents through access to critical information at the right time.

In addition, Honeywell announced that it is the first company to leverage quantum computing encryption keys into smart meters to bolster utilities’ data security against cyber threats helping increase reliability and trust in the digitally transforming utilities sector.

Similarly, Dahua Technology set up a cybersecurity and data protection team, with representatives and experts in data protection, network security, legal affairs, supply chain, R&D, marketing, and delivery and service. The dedicated team provides insights into the latest laws, regulations, and standards around the world, and conducts internal audits and risk assessments fostering a strong degree of transparency and trust among its customers.

The company’s latest Product Security Whitepaper 3.0 also helps users and partners better understand the endogenous security protection capabilities of Dahua products, as well as its initiatives to comprehensively ensure security in R&D, compliance, emergency response and other areas.

Ultimately, the majority of people worry about their safety in the digital world, and rightly so given the rise in cyber threats in recent years.

Renowned former Secretary of State George Shultz famously remarked, ‘When trust was not in the room, good things did not happen. Everything else is details.’ As our digital ecosystem develops, we cannot allow distrust to loom over the very tools and technologies that unify us. To ensure that it stays in the room, security needs to be front and center of any digital project, with initiatives such as those adopted by Honeywell and Dahua setting a precedent for others.