UK consumers rate financial services, the public sector and online retailers as the most trusted sectors when it comes to securing their personal data, Symantec’s inaugural Trust Index has reported.

The YouGov poll of 2,000 adults found that 55 percent trusted financial services, 50 percent the public sector, and about 45 percent online retailers, a mediocre performance but well ahead of the percentages for other sectors. Social media, publishing and online gaming hit trust numbers around the 15 percent mark.

The Index found that only tiny percentage of people trust any sector to a high degree, with only 10 percent of people putting banking – the best-scoring sector – into the top category for complete trust. Younger people were also found to be more trusting than older or retired people.

“It’s clear that social networking sites, the gaming industry and the publishing community aren’t doing enough to assure the public that their personal information is safe and secure,” said Symantec security strategist,  Siân John.

“As these industries increasingly become more monetised, they will be handling more sensitive data. It’s therefore vital that they avoid being left red-faced as a result of serious data breaches,” she said.

What the survey suggests is that the public view of an industry is probably influenced by negative publicity as much as the declared security policies of the companies that make it up. This would explain the poor showing of gaming in a year when one of its biggest companies, Sony, suffered a huge and embarrassing data breach.