The large number of high-profile data breaches around the world has shaken many consumers' confidence and led to them being more wary about who they do business with online, a new survey has found.
According to figures from Symantec, four out of five people in the US are concerned they will fall victim to cybercrime as a result of having personal details stolen. On a global basis, 62 per cent of consumers now agree it is more likely that their financial details will be stolen online as opposed to from their wallets.
Fran Rosch, executive vice-president at Norton by Symantec, commented: "Consumer confidence was rocked in 2014 by an unprecedented number of mega breaches that exposed the identities of millions of people who were simply making routine purchases from well-known retailers."
Large-scale breaches at companies as diverse as Home Depot, Ashley Madison and, most recently, TalkTalk have all illustrated just how easy it can be for determined hackers to access personal information that consumers have willingly handed over to businesses.
As only one in ten respondents stated they feel as if they are in control of their online security, the onus is clearly on businesses who collect this data to ensure the information is secure.
While an effective disaster response plan can help mitigate the fallout in the event of a data breach, there's no substitute for taking steps to prevent data being stolen in the first place.
Although many IT professionals have taken a pessimistic attitude towards this, with many feeling that given the growing sophistication of cyber criminals, it is a matter of when, rather than if, they suffer a breach, there are still steps they can take to keep this risk to a minimum.
For example, the rise of big data has given companies new weapons in the fight against hackers. With the right analytics tools in place, businesses can monitor their network for any unusual activity and be alerted to any attempted intrusions before they have a chance to do damage.
Improving early warning systems will be one of the best things that organisations can do to help keep their customers' personal data safe. In many of the largest cyber attacks in the last couple of years, hackers were eventually found to have been inside businesses' networks for weeks or even months before they were uncovered - allowing them plenty of time to dig deeper into servers and databases to retrieve more valuable information.
Ensuring that potential breaches are tackled as soon as possible can help companies avoid problems such as those faced by businesses like TalkTalk, which noted earlier this month it expects to incur costs of up to £35 million as a result of its recent breach.
Even though the scale of this attack turned out to be far smaller than originally feared, the company admitted it had seen in increase in the number of cancellations in the immediate aftermath of going public with the news.
Given the pessimism towards cyber security that many respondents to Symantec's survey showed, businesses need to be doing everything they can to reassure their customers and avoid falling victim to a similar fate.