Would You Sell Your Private Data Online? Survey Says 39% of You Would!

39 Per Cent of Users Willing to Sell Their Privacy

Let's think of something that can be done both in the virtual and in the real world and see which of the two approaches is more threatening to your security and privacy.

If you're going to a brick-and-mortar shop to purchase an item of clothing, for example, you need to consider the danger of being mugged on your way to and from the store. The potential consequences in such a scenario consist of the loss of money (and/or a pair of jeans) and quite a lot of stress.

Online shopping enthusiasts who have fallen victims to cybercrime are also no strangers to stress. When you're purchasing things on the internet, however, the range of possible attacks and the consequences they bring are more diverse and far-reaching. Inadvertently picking a dishonest retailer is one of the first threats that spring to mind, but it's far from the only one. Cybercriminals can lure you to phishing pages that can steal your login credentials and credit card details, your data could be inappropriately used by vendors, and if your personal cybersecurity hygiene is not good enough, the attack vectors are pretty much innumerable. At the same time, covering up tracks online is easier than doing it in the real world, especially for the criminals who know what they're doing.

The state of cybersecurity has given jobs to hundreds of experts who are constantly trying to tell people what they need to bear in mind and how they can protect themselves. But is their advice falling on deaf ears? Or are we, the people of the internet, actually making progress? To find out, Kaspersky Lab interviewed just under 12 thousand users from 21 countries and shared the results with us.

Are users scared?

Thanks to large-scale data breaches and attacks like 2017's WannaCry ransomware outbreak, cybersecurity has taken a much more center-stage role in mainstream media. Despite this, and despite everything we've said so far, only 41% of the participants in Kaspersky's survey think that their information is under more threat online than it is in the real world. 41% is by no means a small number, but it's hardly an overwhelming majority, either, and while data can also be misused offline, the results show that people are not completely aware of all the dangers that lurk on the internet.

Those who are, however, seem to be more concerned than ever. Quite a few users are not even willing to trust the apps they install on their own devices, with about 68% of the interviewed admitting that they are worried about the personal data these applications collect. The type of information that ends up on the internet is also upsetting quite a few people. 72% of the participants, for example, admitted that they don't feel comfortable having their sexual orientation shared with the online world. Perhaps not surprisingly, people think that the biggest threat comes from cybercriminals, but they also fear governments, social networks, and large IT companies misusing their personal information.

What are users doing about it?

There are people that are familiar with some of the things they can do to protect their privacy in the modern world. A quarter of the users Kaspersky interviewed, for example, said that they've covered up their webcams to ensure that nobody is eavesdropping on them. 62% said that all their devices are protected by passwords, and around 68% claimed that when it comes to online accounts, they try to secure all of them with strong login credentials. On average, about 35% of the users check the privacy settings on their social media accounts every now and again to make sure that no personal details are leaking out.

Just under half of the interviewed claim that they don't download and use illegal software, and 53% regularly clear their browsing histories for privacy reasons. At 16%, the portion of people who encrypt the data on all their devices is not nearly as impressive, though this probably has to do with the fewer available resources that can tell them how to do it.

Do users think that they can do something to improve the overall state of affairs?

While it's not all good news, the figures we've covered so far suggest that people of the internet are at least partially aware of the problem and are doing something to keep themselves safe. Unfortunately, Kaspersky's survey shows that overall, users' attitude towards cybersecurity leaves a lot to be desired.

About 56% of the interviewed think, for example, that there's no such thing as complete online privacy, and just under a third of the participants say that if it does exist, they don't know how to achieve it. In light of this, learning that more than a tenth of the participants "sometimes" share their social media account details with personality quizzes shouldn't surprise us too much.

The most worrying conclusion that we can draw from Kaspersky's survey, however, is that people just don't value their privacy. One-fifth of the participants say that they see nothing wrong with sharing some personal details in exchange for a free service or a product. A whopping 39% of people are willing to swap their privacy for some cold, hard cash. They are ready to give a complete stranger access to all their personal data, provided the said stranger's pockets are deep enough. 37% of the interviewed said that they'd do it for $1 million.

We'll leave it up to you to decide what you make of this.

April 24, 2019

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