It’s no news that your website’s security is paramount to your business. But did you know how much security shapes the perception of your brand? And that’s not just when cyber-attacks and data breaches occur.

Most consumers are intolerant of slow site performance. That's not only because they’re impatient; it’s also because they associate it with lower security. That was one of the messages from a recent survey by the Ponemon Institute, which Neustar sponsored to learn what people expect when they visit a website—and how those expectations affect their opinion of a brand. The results of the survey are summarized in the report What Erodes Trust in Digital Brands?

88% of consumers distrust sites that crash. But 84% are unfamiliar with a leading cause: DDoS attacks.

Brand distrust is caused by factors that reach across the enterprise. Seventy-five percent of the survey’s respondents cited overly simple identity and authentication procedures. A whopping 91 percent named inaccurate digital content.

Interestingly, while 88 percent of respondents cited website downtime as reason to distrust a brand, very few consumers have heard of DDoS attacks, one of the leading causes of unavailable sites. And should a cyber-attack result in a data breach, over 50 percent of people will still view the brand negatively—well over a year later.

Collectively, these findings highlight the imperative of implementing security measures before incidents happen. They also send a clear message that much can be done throughout the enterprise to pre-empt brand damage. Neustar’s CIO and CSO, Mark Tonnesen put it succinctly: “I think IT and security know, or at least intuit, that their work affects the brand. But especially in larger organizations, our contribution to brand isn’t often spoken about. And we need to remind ourselves: every employee who touches the site is a steward of the brand.”

To read more about on what consumers think about their web experiences and how those perceptions affect their trust in brands, download the full report.