Following on from the news that eBay, the global online retail giant, has been hit by a cyber attack – with user accounts and users’ personal information being compromised – consumers have been quick to respond to the breach.

Online research conducted by YouGov reveals that since the cyber attack was made public:

  • Half (49%) of adults online will be less inclined to use eBay in the future.
  • A third (33%) have changed their passwords and over half (52%) haven’t but intend to.
  • 12% of eBay users have not changed their passwords, and don’t intend to.

There is undoubtedly huge fallout from this cyber attack, for the millions of eBay customers and businesses which use its marketplace, as well as from a corporate perspective – and we are only in the early stages of it.

What this YouGov research gives us is a flavour of the immediate consumer response to it all and it is important as it shows what lasting damage an incident such as this can have on a business, as it reveals that almost half of all adults surveyed will be less inclined to use eBay in the future.

It is encouraging that people have acted quickly to change their passwords, but worryingly there are still a large number who need to take action. eBay needs to make this as simple and rigorous as possible so that individuals can exercise some control over the safety of their own personal information, otherwise those vulnerabilities will remain; this means they need to update its application. They are doing this anyway to ‘force’ people to change their password when they log in.

Putting password creation ‘rules’ on the page and providing indicators for special characters alongside the simple red/green indicator for password strength, will ease the frustration usually associated with trying to find a new password which is secure and fits all the required criteria.

eBay also needs to ensure that there is enough server/application capacity for the changes to occur, otherwise there will be increased annoyance from the users and at this point that would make its already tarnished reputation even worse.

Overall a cyber-incident of this magnitude will have far-reaching consequences for eBay, which for so long has been a stand-out symbol of the online world. Questions naturally are already being asked. As further details of this breach unfold, eBay must make it its priority to reassure customers that their critical and personal information is protected 100% of the time, to build back up consumer trust.

Age is also a factor, with nearly two thirds (60%) of those aged 55 and over questioning their use of eBay following the cyber attack, compared to under half (47%) of those aged 18 to 24.

The results also show that around two thirds (62%) of adults in Wales would be less inclined to use eBay in the future, whereas those in the East Midlands (47%) are slightly more trustful. Nearly half (48%) of those in the West Midlands haven’t changed their views on eBay following the cyber-attack.

Note: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov. Total sample size was 2,403 adults, of which 1,800 currently have an eBay account. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd – 23rd May 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).