A recent report from Radius Global Market Research provides valuable insight into how much faith consumers have in the state of current online security. In short, the answer is that they have very little, and that’s a problem. The study, which surveyed customers who regularly use computers, tablets, and mobile phones to access the web, suggested that consumers have become more wary of doling out personal information online out of fear that companies are using and storing it irresponsibly.

These fears, in large part, are in response to a number of recent high-profile gaffes. Barclays, for example, lost thousands of banking files filled with confidential customer data last February. When industry mammoths such as these are falling behind in their data security and data use practices, it’s evidence of how complex the situation is.

There’s no mistaking the fact that a lot is at stake for companies handling people’s data, and that the issue of data security and transparency has evolved into nothing other than a bona fide marketing crisis. More than 75% of consumers suggested that any evidence that a company had violated their privacy would keep them from doing business with that company altogether, and 67% of consumers responded that they try to do business only with companies that they feel can handle their data adequately.

So what can marketers do to win back the hearts of skeptical consumers? Research suggests that when companies handle customer data irresponsibly, and those blunders become public knowledge, even companies that aren’t at fault suffer. But there are things your brand can do to distinguish itself as a leader in data responsibility. Here are 4 steps businesses can take to to stay ahead of the data security curve:

1. Make Sure Your Customer Data is Secure

Increasingly, companies are moving sensitive data to third-party storage providers because of their lower operating costs and increased security and performance. A well-equipped storage provider should be able to fully index the data for easier application, automatically update data fields as users update their social profiles, and integrate the data directly with specific apps and channels.

2. Give Users the Option of Logging Into Your Website Using a Third Party Provider

Letting users log in via a third party social identity provider, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, or another social media site, will allow users to share only the information that they’re comfortable handing over, save them from having to remember another set of login credentials, and keep your business from having to store and update this sensitive data on a continual basis.

3. Keep Up with Social Privacy Practices

As social privacy practices continue to evolve, it’s important to understand how the latest updates affect both your consumers and your business. Storing sensitive data with a third party will eliminate a lot of your security-related data risks while ensuring that the data management standards that are being followed are only the most up to date.

4. Clearly Communicate Your Commitment to User Privacy

It’s great if your company is being responsible in its handling of customer data, but a lot of those good intentions are negated if your audience doesn’t know it. Adding a privacy seal to your user registration and login process that communicates your business’s commitment to adhering to the latest data security standards will send a clear message to current and potential customers: that you take data privacy and security very seriously.

Your Data Security Shouldn’t be Taken Lightly

Radius GMR director, Jamie Myers, put it bluntly: “Consumers made it clear that a perception of poor security practices is reason enough to stop doing business with a brand. Clearly it is not enough to have a good track record…brands must adjust communications to merchandise ongoing efforts in order to establish and keep trust.” As brands and their marketers work toward obtaining and keeping consumer trust, they must be active in their pursuit of those goals by keeping ahead of industry standards.