Reckless data sharing online for short-term gains is leaving consumers exposed to more than they bargained for, according to new research from Kaspersky Lab. Despite outrage and worry around high profile data sharing scandals, including when Facebook gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to delete users’ private messages, over half of internet users (56%) feel that complete privacy in the modern digital world is impossible. Many are instead choosing to sell-out when it comes to securing the integrity of their data and persona online – but with potentially big costs and consequences.
Despite the very real consequences associated with personal data being misused or falling into the wrong hands, one in five (18%) people would happily sacrifice their privacy and share data if they got something for free. More than a third (39%) would even accept money in exchange for giving a complete stranger full access to their private data. With internet users more likely to share their private data if there is something in it for them, taking this short-term approach can lead to long-term damage.
Recent cases such as tweets posted by James Gunn, or Kevin Hart, show how the data you willingly share online could come back to bite you in ways you could never imagine – damaging reputations and careers.
For the ‘person on the street’, it is also becoming more common for employers and potential employers to scour social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, to check that staff and candidates are reputable and workers not bringing the company into disrepute.
Employees themselves also need to be wary of revealing too much about themselves and their jobs on social media. Indeed, figures from Career Builder suggest that 57% of employers have found content on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate, and a third (34%) have reprimanded or fired an existing employee due to online content.
Whether we openly share it or not, if our information falls into the wrong hands online, it can have a huge impact in the real world. Kaspersky Lab’s research found that over a quarter (26%) of people have had their private data accessed by someone without their consent – rising to almost a third (31%) amongst 16-24 year olds. The consequences of this were wide and varied with more than a third (36%) feeling stressed as a result. This rises to 42% amongst 16-24 year olds; one in five (21%) have experienced monetary loss; while a quarter (25%) were disturbed by spam and adverts.
These consequences come despite many of us taking steps to keep information secret or to stop others accessing personal and confidential data. With cybercriminals coming out as the people we are most afraid of seeing or accessing our private data – followed by the internet in general and the government – 62% of people password protect their devices to keep information private. A third (35%) regularly check and change privacy settings on the devices, services and apps they use (rising to 42% of 16-24 year olds and just over a quarter (28%) of the over 55s); a quarter (25%) cover their webcams to keep data private; and one in five (21%) men encrypt data compared to just one in ten (11%) women.
“You don’t have to look far to see how data can be misused or used against consumers in a variety of scenarios, for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s the Marriott data breach in 2018 which affected 500 million customers and saw many become a victim of identity fraud as a result, or when retailer Forever 21 cashier terminals exposed customer credit card information. Or the recent case of a musician whose former girlfriend used his email account to turn down a music scholarship in a bid to prevent him from moving away from Montreal. Good digital hygiene and awareness about the importance of online privacy and how to safeguard yourself could stop you and your data from becoming compromised,” said Marina Titova, Head of Consumer Product Marketing at Kaspersky Lab. “Data privacy is and should be achievable by everyone. Secrets can stay safe and data loss should not be an expectation but an exception to transacting online. A combined solution of security products and practical steps can minimize the threats and keep your data safe online.”
To help keep your online world private and stop you from falling victim to data misuse, there are some simple steps to follow:
- Think twice before you post on social media channels. Could there be wider consequences of making your views or information public? Could content be used against you or to your detriment now or in the future?
- Don’t share passwords to your online accounts with family or friends. It might seem like a good idea or a convenient way of sharing accounts with loved ones, but it also adds to the likelihood of passwords being uncovered by fraudsters. Keep them to yourself and safeguard your private information to protect you should relationships turn sour.
- Take your online privacy seriously and don’t share or permit access to your information with third parties unless absolutely necessary, to minimize exposure of it falling into the wrong hands.
- Only download legitimate applications to store and protect your sensitive data – such as Kaspersky Password Manager – so this information remains secure from potential threats.
- Use reliable security solutions for comprehensive protection from a wide range of threats aimed at your personal data compromising, such as Kaspersky Security Cloud and Kaspersky Internet Security