Last week’s TalkTalk hack saw four million customers’ personal data stolen, £360m wiped from the communication brand’s market value, and a hole put in the public’s perception of the brand. The arrest – and subsequent bailing – of a 15-year old boy in connection with the attack may not be enough to placate customer worries.
While boss Dido Harding, insists that TalkTalk’s cyber security was “head and shoulders” above its rivals’, the company admitted it couldn’t be sure how much of its customer information had been encrypted. This latest security breach – the third this year – could well leave an indelible stain on its reputation.
Damage-limitation has already begun, with the company pausing activity around its X-Factor sponsorship.
YouGov BrandIndex data reveals the impact the hacking has had on TalkTalk’s public perception. Its Buzz metric (measuring whether a respondent has heard something positive or negative about a brand in the past two weeks) has plummeted, falling from minus one to a current low of minus 50 in just five days.
This has directly affected TalkTalk’s Reputation score. It has plunged from minus 10 to minus 34 since the start of the crisis. Its Recommend scores – where respondents are asked whether they would recommend a brand to a friend – has nosedived, from minus seven to an alarming minus 39.
Although pulling X-Factor ads will cut public exposure for a while, TalkTalk’s shift in marketing will not erase consumers’ fears. Data breaches on this scale are increasingly common and often continue to damage the public’s perception of a brand long after a hacker has been caught and prosecuted.
As cybercrime rates increase, this hack should prompt other firms to assess whether their security measures are fit for purpose. If you can’t secure your customers’ data, you will find it difficult to secure their trust.