In Data We Trust – But Who Is Holding That Data?

It is amazing how much trust we place in the holding on to our private data to Private and Public organizations.  In a world that on almost a daily basis there is some form of Data Breach that flings open the door of Privacy and Personal Information I find it interesting that there is any trust in others to keep our data safe.

In a recently released study the Ponemon Institute released findings of the Top 20 most trusted companies in the US that hold onto our data in many different ways.  In the Executive Summary of the report titled 2012 Most Trusted Companies for Privacy the n-count was quite impressive in building out the data for this study:

More than 100,000 adult-aged consumers were asked to name up to five
companies they believe to be the most trusted for protecting the privacy of their
personal information. Consumer responses were gathered over a 15-week
period concluding in December 2012 and resulted in a final sample of 6,704
respondents who, on average, provided 5.4 discernible company ratings that
represent 25 different industries.

The Top 20 was quite revealing and in looking at some very interesting organizations that are on the list…but also a couple that are missing (like Apple and Google):

Top 20 perormers 2012 Rank 2011 Rank
American Express 1 1
Hewlett Packard 2 2
Amazon 3 5
IBM 4 3
US Postal Service 4 6
Procter & Gamble 6 6
USAA 7 11
Nationwide 8 8
eBay 9 4
Intuit 10 10
Verizon 11 12
Johnson & Johnson 12 7
FedEx 12 15
WebMD 13 9
Weight Watchers 14 17
U.S. Bank 15 16
Disney 16 13
Microsoft 17 NR
United Healthcare 18 NR
VISA 18 16
AT&T 19 19
Mozilla 20 NR
*NR=Not rated in stated year

So what is it about these 20 companies that make them so worthy of consumer trust?  I did quick check on Data Breaches in recent history for a sample of these companies and 2010 seemed to be a banner year for these illustrious Top 20 companies to fail in living up to the trust that they have earned.

  • July 2010 FedEx looses 138,000 Patient Records for New York City Hospital
  • June 2010 AT&T Network Flaw exposes 100,000 iPad owners email addresses
  • October 2012 Nationwide Insurance Data Breach affects 1.1 Million Customers
  • January 2012 Amazon subsidiary exposes 24 million customers in massive Data Breach

Trust is one of those things that is a challenge to achieve and takes constant vigilance to maintain.  I did find a very interesting site that actually looks to all of the Data Breaches that have been made public (and with so many…I wonder how many are not?) and I hope that some of the 100,000 people surveyed take a look at this site before they answer the questions for the 2013 report on Privacy!


Chris J Powell

Posted on January 31, 2013 in Data Security, Risk Management

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