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Consumers are wary about returning to shop at retailers that have been the subject of security breaches, according to a new study.

The survey of 1,200 UK consumers revealed that the majority would take their business elsewhere in the event of loss of customer data as a result of a security breach or hack attack.

One in seven of the high income earners among those quizzed in the poll confessed to having been the victim of data theft. Four in five (82 per cent) would expect to be notified immediately in the event of a data breach, an issue brought to the fore by the recent high profile security flap involving the loss of up to 45 million card records by discount retailer TJX.

One third of punters polled avoided putting their personal information online. Even so, 11 per cent of this group still became the victim of data theft, illustrating that the problem on data security extends beyond internet security.

Nearly all (95 per cent) the respondents to the survey expressed concern about some aspect of the security of their personal data, with 83 per cent singling out the security of credit and debit cards as their principle priority. A sizable minority (45 per cent) of those quizzed reckon banks and online retailers are not doing enough to protect their personal information.

More and more UK-based firms are deciding to outsource their database storage and management facilities overseas. The survey reveals that two in three (63 per cent) are concerned about the ability of data centres to protect their data, in the UK and abroad.

Paul Davie, chief exec of Secerno, the UK-based database security firm that sponsored the survey, said recent high-profile data breach cases are beginning to affect public attitudes. He called for US-style information security disclosure laws to be applied in Europe.

"Consumers have a right to be told immediately whenever their personal information may have been compromised, yet those companies holding personal data know that they are likely be punished when a breach becomes known - by loss of customers, damage to reputation, cost of clear up, and share price impact. This means that companies have an immediate disincentive to do the right thing in such cases," Davie said.

"A new legal framework is needed in Europe to force disclosure of breaches. Currently, there is no EU Directive to enforce disclosure – which means a TJX/TKMaxx could already have happened but, unlike US companies, European companies would not necessarily be obliged to warn their customers," he added. ®

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