Cisco Says Data Security Fears Delay Sales for Businesses

Customer privacy concerns led to sales delays for most businesses last year as fears escalated in the wake of massive data hacks at Equifax, Yahoo and other companies.

About 65 percent of businesses say privacy concerns impacted how quickly they were able to sell their products and services, according to a Cisco study released Thursday. The average length of a sales delay was nearly 8 weeks.

"We're seeing that good privacy, mature privacy, well measured and studied privacy is good for business, and we have the data to show it," said Michelle Dennedy, Cisco's chief privacy officer, in an interview.

Companies could lose money from delayed sales, especially if a customer switches to a competitor during that time, according to the study.

More government regulation, including in Europe, and consumer awareness may explain why privacy concerns delayed sales, Dennedy said.

Cisco, which sells security products, also found that businesses with better privacy processes reported lower losses from data breaches.

About 74 percent of businesses with incomplete or inconsistent privacy procedures reported losing more than $500,000 last year because of a data breach.

The San Jose technology firm surveyed more than 3,600 security professionals in 25 countries across multiple industries, including government, healthcare, retail and education.

Companies in government and healthcare, which handle more confidential data than other industries, saw the longest average sales delays. Utilities and pharmaceutical businesses had the shortest sales delays.

Businesses in Latin America, Mexico and Japan reported the longest sales delays while China and Russia had the shortest delays. In the United States, the average sales delay was 7.7 weeks -- nearly equal to the overall average delay.

The double-blind survey was conducted between October and December and included businesses of various sizes, according to Cisco.

Businesses are also taking consumer privacy concerns more seriously because of a new European data privacy protection law that takes effect...

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