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Push for tighter cybersecurity has side effects for workers, shoppers

Data Services Cyberattack
Posted at 12:20 PM, Apr 11, 2022

There are side effects to increased cybersecurity.

Some people are overwhelmed by security alerts. Others change their behavior when they see the privacy notice.

One report published in January indicates people are less interested in making a purchase when they see a generic privacy pop-up on a website.

However, the impact went away when the notice included phrases like, "We care about your privacy."

Researchers refer to these phrases as "benevolence cues."

"Even though these benevolence cues offer no legal protection to consumers, they do help to build trust," said Aaron Brough, a professor at Utah State University.

His team found business managers overwhelmingly believed a strong privacy notification would increase consumer trust.

Instead, those privacy pop-ups were likely to turn away customers if they did not contain benevolent language.

"The people who draft the privacy policies and privacy notices aren't typically thinking about consumers' reactions to it as much as the legal ramifications for the firm," said Brough. "That's what we found really makes the difference here. When you're communicating without a sense of the firm's caring for the consumer, it has a negative effect, rather than a positive effect, on purchase interest."

Others find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of alerts they receive each day.

According to a survey published earlier this year, more than 60% of U.S. IT experts said they receive 500+ cloud security alerts each day.

"More than half of the organizations believe that they miss critical alerts on a weekly or, sometimes, daily basis," said Avi Shua, the co-founder, and CEO of Orca Security.

Shua said the missed alerts are tied to overall alert fatigue.

"This is a really bad place to be," Shua said. "The tools that generate alerts that are technically correct but cannot be effectively used."

Alert fatigue is not unique to IT professionals. It's also common in the world of medicine. It can lead to burnout and friction in the workplace.

There may not be an easy fix.

Experts say businesses can take the first step by cutting out alerts that aren't business-critical.