Consumers concerned about sharing data in the cloud

Research from Fujitsu shows little trust in public and private sector to secure data in the cloud

Tags: Cloud computingFujitsu Technology Solutions - UAE
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Consumers concerned about sharing data in the cloud The research from Fujitsu attempts to give companies a starting point to understand how to develop trust for cloud services, says Al-Sabbagh.
By  Mark Sutton Published  December 10, 2010

Nearly three-quarters of all consumers are concerned that there is nothing they can do to control what happens to data they share with businesses or government, according to new research from Fujitsu.

The study, of 6,000 consumers worldwide, found that 89% of consumers were worried about who had access to their data, and overall levels of trust are very low, with only single-digit percentage of those polled saying they trust institutions to look after their data.

The survey was carried out as part of ongoing research by Fujitsu to gauge attitudes among consumers to sharing data with public and private sector institutions, to help institutions to realize the wider social and business benefits of cloud computing while maintaining consumer trust.

Fujitsu said in its ‘Personal Data in the Cloud: The Importance of Trust’ report, that it had found a very divergent range of attitudes and factors around trust and attitudes towards cloud computing, with no one single factor such as age, gender or nationality making a clear difference to trust.

In general, the study found that people were more willing to trust their bank to keep their data secure than their government, but it still indicates a difficult task for organisations that are looking to gain consumer trust.

The study identified three types of consumers with broadly consistent views on cloud and privacy, the advocates who make up 35% of respondents, the objectors who make up 19% and the fence-sitters, the largest group with 46%.

Advocates are more likely to believe that their data is secure, and that cloud computing will offer benefits to them personally. Compared to the fence-sitters, advocates are 40% more likely to think it will be convenient to have their data available in the cloud, 41% more likely not to be worried about data security and to believe their data is secure, and 35% more likely to believe that cloud will benefit them in saving time, receiving special tailored offers to vendors, and give them quicker access to their personal data.

In comparison, the objectors are much more concerned about where data is stored and who has access – they are 60% more likely to concerned about these issues than advocates. Objectors are also 60% less convinced than average about the convenience of cloud, and around 50% less convinced of the benefits to themselves.

Overall, the study found very low levels of trust, with only 13% of advocates, 2% of fence-sitters and 1% of objectors saying they trusted institutions to look after their data. The median group, the fence-sitters, was only just convinced the benefits of sharing data in the cloud outweigh concerns of access and security.

Farid Al-Sabbagh, managing director of Middle East, Fujitsu Technology Solutions commented: “With such divergent attitudes to the benefits and risks of cloud computing, there is no one strategic approach to data privacy that will work for public and private sector organizations everywhere. This research helps stakeholders to take a reading in their markets today, and so develop an appropriate response. Successful data privacy strategies will focus on winning over the fence-sitters, converting them into advocates by communicating the benefits even more clearly and by allaying their fears.”

In terms of what respondents wanted to see from corporation in order to gain consumer trust, highest ranked was the need for companies to secure their IT systems and to use data responsibly, followed by being transparent around taking clear security measures, giving written guarantees, be clear about what they are doing with the data and who has access to it. The need to realize that some data is more personal than other data, and to respect that and not attempt to exploit personal data was also seen as an important factor.

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