Trust online is hard won, easily lost, and non-existent for 14% of Australians


Okta has released a new report: The State of Digital Trust – A snapshot of Australians’ trust in an increasingly digital society. The report found that trust is hard won, but easily lost, with nearly half of Australian respondents (49%) saying they would permanently stop using a company’s services following a data breach. Further, a significant percentage of Australians (14%) say they don’t trust any digital channel to safely handle their data.

Over the course of 2020, organisations had to trust their employees to work from home, and consumers had to trust businesses with their information amidst a huge spike in online threats. As a society, we also had to put trust in each other, the scientific community, and the government, to make the right decisions to protect our health and prosperity. This changing landscape of trust was set against a backdrop of global economic uncertainty, political upheaval, and soaring privacy expectations among consumers. More than half of Australian respondents (57%) say they are more cautious about sharing personal information online now than they were before the pandemic.

To find out how critical trust has become for consumers and businesses alike in the post-pandemic digital world, Okta surveyed more than 15,000 office workers around the world, including over 1,000 in Australia.

The survey found that when it comes to building trust, consumers care most about the core competencies: service reliability, strong security, and good data handling practices. Respondents also made it clear that trust in their digital world directly impacts purchase decisions, and many will cut ties with brands they lose trust in.

Key Australian findings:

  • How is digital trust won and lost?
    • The top reasons for trust in a digital brand are service reliability (32%) and secure login options such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) (24%)
    • The top reasons for distrust in a digital brand are intentional misuse or sale of personal data (44%) and data breaches (16%)
    • 40% of Australian respondents have lost trust in a company following a data breach
  • What are the biggest reservations about shopping online?
    • Not knowing if the website is legitimate (54%)
    • Concern about a data breach occurring with their personal information (49%)
    • Websites requesting too much personal information (44%)
  • Which channels are most trusted?
    • Government websites (41%)
    • Websites used for work, including search engines and online databases (17%)
    • Workplace communications apps, e.g. Zoom, Slack, Teams, Skype (10%)
    • Established social media platforms, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (5%)

14% say they don’t trust any digital channels to safely handle their data

  • What happens without trust?
    • 77% would not purchase from a company they don’t trust
    • 49% would permanently stop using a company’s services and 41% would delete their account following a data breach
  • How do Australians perceive cyber risk since the COVID-19 pandemic?
    • 57% are more cautious about sharing personal information online since the pandemic
    • Working from home compared to in the office, 45% are more wary of phishing emails, 43% of data breaches, and 37% of deepfake fraud
    • Of all online threats, Australians feel most at risk of identity theft (27%) but password theft is a low concern (10%)
    • Media coverage about online threats increased online caution for 46% of respondents during the pandemic
  • How are respondents’ employers addressing the growth in cyber threats?
    • Implementation of new security applications and technologies, e.g. MFA (39%)
    • Implemented more internal security training (28%)
    • 24% of respondents don’t know and 21% claimed their employer has done nothing

“This new report from Okta shows that, while digital transformation has been critical to helping businesses stay afloat after the COVID-19 pandemic, trust has become an essential commodity in mitigating risk and driving value for all,” said Graham Sowden, General Manager APAC at Okta. “As cyber scams and data breaches continue to make headlines, the Australian public is becoming increasingly wary of risks to data privacy and security. Digital brands must be responsible stewards of customer data in order to nurture trust, and drive loyalty and success. The first step towards building digital trust is establishing effective security tools and policies.”

You can read the full Australian edition of The State of Digital Trust report here.