The majority of consumers would not continue to do business with a company that suffers a data breach, with two-thirds of people (66 per cent) saying they would walk away if financial data or other sensitive personal information is exposed.
This is according to a new study by Gemalto, which found retailers are the brands most at risk of losing customers if they fail to look after data, ahead of banks and social media companies.
Overall, more than nine out of ten consumers around the world (93 per cent) would place the blame for any breach directly on the business and would consider taking action, either by voting with their feet or by participating in legal claims.
Younger people in particular may be unlikely to be satisfied with an apology, with 67 per cent of 18 to 24-year olds saying they would take fraudsters and brands that suffered a breach to court, compared with just 45 per cent for those aged 65 and over.
Jason Hart, chief technology officer, data protection, at Gemalto, said: "This should be a wake-up call to businesses that consumer patience has run out. It's clear they have little faith that organisations are taking their data protection seriously, or that their concerns will be heard, forcing them to take action themselves."
The research found that a quarter of respondents claimed to have already been the victim of a data breach, with 26 per cent having financial details compromised, while 19 per cent have experienced fraudulent use of their personal identifiable information and 16 per cent suffered from identity theft.
Consumers are also pessimistic that things are going to improve, with two-thirds (66 per cent) worried that their personal information will be stolen at some point in the future.
Mr Hart said: "As young people become the big spenders of the future, businesses are risking not only alienating their current and future revenue streams but also their reputation if they continue to give the impression that they don't take data security seriously."