US consumers are more connected today than they’ve ever been. A perfect storm of powerful smart devices, mobile applications, cloud-based communication services, super-fast wired and wireless networks and social media platforms has led us to this point. It has enriched our lives and made us more productive at work. But with all these gains comes the flip side: we increasingly worry whether our personal information is secure from data theft and loss, and we are concerned that our right to keep that data private may have been eroded.
As a leader in security and privacy for more than 26 years, Trend Micro has commissioned a major study to find out exactly how worried US consumers about these technological developments, as their lives become increasingly connected.
The results should be an eye-opener to each and every company operating in the digital world: we all need to do more to protect personal privacy and security.
The Ponemon study – Privacy and Security in a Connected Life: A Study of US Consumers – begins by profiling respondents according to three main types: privacy centric, privacy sensitive, and privacy complacent. Respondents were asked which category applied to them five years ago and which was relevant today.
Interestingly, it found that the number of “privacy centric” consumers – those who would change their behavior after experiencing events to make them worry about their privacy and security – dropped from 22 percent to 14 percent. However, the number of “privacy sensitive” consumers – who think privacy is important but rarely change behavior, even in the event of a breach – rose from 55 percent to 61 percent.
This could mean a growing number of US consumers have a general feeling of powerlessness when it comes to privacy, or it could point to a lack of awareness about the challenges of living more of our digital lives online.
Security or privacy?
This tallies with another key finding: that more respondents were concerned with the security of their data than personal privacy. Some 68 percent said they were concerned about security on social media, while just 46 percent said the same about privacy. It’s clear, whatever their motivation, that most US citizens are not willing to change their browsing habits because of privacy concerns, so we need to find ways of improving security on these platforms.
Luckily, Trend Micro offers several feature built into its security products to protect users on social media. These include capabilities to scan and block malicious links, as well as scanning privacy settings to let users know if they’ve over-exposed themselves online.
Consumers in the dark
A recurring theme in our research on privacy and security was a feeling among consumers that they have no control over where and how their data is used:
However, most worrying amongst all our findings was the fact that 59 percent of US consumers said they would be prepared to sell personal data to “trusted companies.”
Trend Micro has been securing data and protecting customer privacy online for more than 26 years – to ensure the world is a safer place in which to exchange digital information. But as our lives become ever more digitally connected, there’s always more to be done.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the results of this research.
It shows us that many consumers have yet to fully grasp the importance of security and privacy to their digital lives, while others feel a sense of powerlessness over where their personal information ends up.
Click here to read the full report and watch out for our next blog, where we’ll discuss how the Internet of Things is affecting security and privacy.