50% consumers in Europe afraid about their data security online

Symantec has released a report (Symantec State of Privacy Report 2015) from a research conducted among 7,000 participants from the European countries, revealing that there is concern as to the safety breaches occurring online. At the same time, people become aware of the value of their private information and evaluate different websites based on the quality of the safety provided.

According to the recent report on privacy that was released by Symantec, there is growing concern among online customers regarding the safety of their personal information. As a result, they appear to be more reluctant as time goes by and such a tendency will continue on spreading around the world. Within the following years, it has been foreseen that the online purchases will be limited to trusted sources only. This means that, although online shopping is going to keep on growing as a whole, the customers will become more vigilant and only decide to complete a purchase that is related to a trustworthy seller.

The report findings derived from questioning over 7,000 people residing in the European countries. About 2 out of 3 of the people who were surveyed had experienced a safety breach in their lives and this is certainly something that is worth highlighting. As far as the trustworthiness of websites, what the respondents focused on was the fact that medical institutions and banks were the safest sites to be found. On the contrary, retailers and social media platforms were red flags that involved a great deal of risk. Nevertheless, not many people decided to abstain from the latter, riskier sites.

In the survey, 1 out of 3 admitted that they make use of false information when it comes to their identity and private life. Such information is used when signing up for an email account or registering to social media. So, this reveals most eloquently the acknowledgement that there is growing concern about identity theft and sensitive data exploitation in Europe. Having said that, young adults were the ones that appeared most likely to provide false information – instead, people over the age of 65 were more truthful and used their own data online.

According to Ilias Chantzos, who is the senior director of Symantec Government Affairs EMEA:

Businesses need to be more transparent with customers on how they are keeping data secure. Security needs to be embedded into a company’s value chain, but it should also be viewed internally as a customer-winning requirement, and not just a cost.

This comes in contradiction with the vast majority of the respondents, who have admitted that they believe their personal information is sold to third parties. Such a sale obviously derives from the need to make profit out of valuable pieces of information. When asked about the actual value of their sensitive data, over 50 per cent answered that the price is well over €1,000 and some even suggested that it reached or surpassed €10,000.

It is true that nowadays the ongoing data breaches and the online surveillance revelations by people like Edward Snowden have damaged the overall safety image of online transactions and data sharing. Retailers are most vulnerable, due to the safety vulnerabilities that have been brought to light with Target and Home Depot (among many others).

All at once, social media platforms have been frequently accused of data breaches and vulnerabilities with the latest incident being that of LinkedIn and weak password security. Internet users are encouraged to be vigilant and remain extra cautious, in order to be kept safe at all times while benefiting from the wonderful possibilities of the web.

Pierluigi Paganini Cyber Security Analyst; Member, European Union Agency for Network and Information Security Threat Landscape Stakeholder Group; Founder, Security Affairs Blog. Co-author of The Deep Dark Web: The Hidden World.
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