Categories: News and Resources

Katie Ferro


Data Security

Reported online privacy and security breaches continue to rise, highlighting how important it is for all industries, including market research, to manage information security risks.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics could be considered the most recent ‘poster child’ for the growing data security issue in Australia.  Not only did they face a public backlash over their decision to collect and use citizens’ names for the 2016 Census, the Government was also left defending the security of data when the website was very publicly ‘hacked’ or ‘attacked’.

While they might not receive the same level of public scrutiny there’s no doubt that market research companies face a challenging and evolving world when it comes to protecting data security.

In 2016 data is an increasingly valuable commodity with cybercriminals targeting a wide range of vulnerable suppliers from government, insurance, banks, telcos and more. For market researchers, the burden of responsibility is widening with many international regulators holding organisations liable for any privacy or security breaches.1

The onus is now squarely on companies to ensure suppliers are managing the information security risk associated with clients.

According to a GreenBook blog on Information Security, it is essential for all market research companies to have a comprehensive supplier risk management policy that would include setting up a ranking system and categorising each supplier within it.1 For each rank level, it is then necessary to determine what is required to monitor risk, and how often.1

Not only do market researchers need to ensure they are on top of their suppliers’ security, they also need to ensure that clients and panel members alike are confident in their ability to safely handle data.

This is especially crucial given that research by the Global Research Business Network of 24,000 global respondents revealed a disturbing 41% said they didn’t trust market researchers with their privacy.2

With the widespread concern over privacy and security breaches due to high profile cases both in Australia and globally, it is important that detailed information on security and privacy processes are clearly publicised and regularly updated.

Some recent examples of international data breaches include:

  • Facebook has been feeling the heat due to significant privacy breaches. Research commissioned by the Belgian data protection agency revealed that Facebook has not only been breaching the EU’s new rules to not track individuals who opt out, but alarmingly is also tracking through cookies and plugins those without Facebook accounts and logged out users.3
  • A judge in regional Brazil banning the extremely popular WhatsApp chat service (used by more than 100 million Brazilians) for 72 hours in May this year. Facebook, which owns the app, was allegedly not cooperating by handing over data from customers in a drug-running case that the judge was presiding over.5
  • The Sony Pictures Entertainment hacking saga where sensitive and embarrassing internal company emails were leaked to the public.

With so many high profile cases in the media, it is no wonder that three out of four Australians (78 per cent) are more concerned about their online privacy now than five years ago.6

As the custodians of sensitive client data, market research companies have a responsibility to keep all data secure, particularly anything transferred via email.

Email security is vital to the industry from a business, cyber-security, and risk mitigation perspective, and, most importantly, from the perspective of maintaining general public trust in the industry. As a Greenbook article, states: “The market research industry can show leadership where many other industries are ignoring this time bomb. The industry has the most to gain – and the most to lose”.7

CRNRSTONE, formerly Stable Research, has rigorous systems in place to ensure the safeguarding and security of data at all times and is accredited with Market Research Industry Trustmark. The Trustmark is a seal of endorsement that ensures AMSRO member companies are compliant with the highest ethical standards, particularly in regards to privacy. It also provides buyers of research the assurance that their data is protected.

For more information see our Privacy Policy



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Led by Ben – we have a team with years of experience as well as being tech savvy! New to the team we welcome Robin and Pauline, joining Mark & Jack (pictured above, Robin, Pauline, Ben) They all love the frantic pace at Stable Research – scripting 80+ jobs every month!

Robin, Pauline, Jack and Mark.