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Optus breach helps push telco industry to most distrusted in Australia: Roy Morgan

The Australian telecommunications industry has overtaken social media as the most distrusted industry, primarily driven by the “toxic levels of distrust” that Optus faced amid its highly publicised data breach in September 2022, according to research from Roy Morgan.

Roy Morgan Industry and Distrust Rankings for February 2023

In the 12 months to February 2023, Optus was the second most distrusted brand in the Australian economy, with Telstra the third most distrusted. Facebook remains the most distrusted in the country, despite reporting lower levels of distrust in recent months.

The report also found that some telco brands are bucking that trend, with Aussie Broadband ranked as the 26th most trusted brand in Australia and the most trusted telco brand.

“Unfortunately for Optus, it has been proven that brands which suffer major scandals find that once distrust takes hold, it is very difficult to curtail. In combination with Telstra’s existing position, as the third most distrusted brand in the economy, Optus has driven the telecommunications sector to be even more distrusted than the social media industry,” Roy Morgan chief executive Michele Levine said.

“We know that distrust makes a brand fragile and is a powerful driver in the decisions consumers make. High distrust in any industry’s key players opens the door for trusted brands to take market share.

“Risk assessments and procedures by executives and company directors across all industries need to formally factor-in distrust – indeed distrust should be on the risk register of every board in Australia.”

Also taking hits to their trust ratings are the travel and tourism industry and insurance, thanks to some highly publicised events during the period.

The travel and tourism industry fell from 10th to 13th, recording more distrust than trust due to increased distrust of Qantas following the negative press coverage it received over the past year. The airline also fell into Net Distrust territory for the first time this month.

Insurance took a hit after Medibank recorded increased levels of distrust during the period, thanks to the company’s own highly publicised data breach. The company also moved up to become the 7th most distrusted brand in the economy.

In a statement, an Optus spokesperson told Mumbrella, “Optus is committed to rebuilding trust and offering our customers great services, great value, and innovative new approaches.

“We have seen indicators that our efforts to do better are resonating with customers, including a return to customer growth.

“As more and more companies’ customers are falling victim to criminal actors, Optus is committed to doing better for our customers and playing our role in making Australia less of a target for cyber attacks.”

Telstra declined to comment.

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