27 Apr NordVPN reveals 86% of consumers are concerned about their data privacy
A recent study from the world’s leading VPN service, NordVPN, has revealed that 86% of consumers are reasonably concerned about their data privacy. Furthermore, it found that 92% of consumers also fail to protect their privacy, leaving them open to cyber attacks.
The study focused on American consumers, but provides lessons for all as it reveals how online data can be easily misused. The study revealed 92% of Americans freely share some of their most sensitive information while using internet services. Among the types of information they share are their full addresses (69.8%), relationship status (47.7%), and bank details (20.7%).
As the majority of users fail to protect their privacy, experts emphasised that data remains the most vulnerable asset in the world, with 97% of businesses using data to power their performance.
Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN, said: “These days, banks begin to monitor people’s online activity before giving them loans, politicians write speeches based on electors’ Twitter posts, and cities are built based on data collected by smart garbage bins. So data that is collected affects us in a very literal way and may directly be used against users in the real world.”
According to Markuson, personal data can affect people’s financial situation, their country’s election results, their living conditions, and even the justice system.
Financial service providers, like banks, lenders, and insurance companies, use data about their customer’s behaviour, interests, and personalities to determine their creditworthiness. How we act online can have a huge effect on financial situations, including how a consumer is viewed by a financial institution as Daniel Markuson explained: “We increasingly have no idea what determines if we can or can’t get a loan or how much our car insurance may cost. On the other hand, those who try to figure it out and ‘crack the system’ start to use their social media accounts to get a better deal from the bank rather than to express their thoughts.”
It’s not just finance that data can affect, it can also affect residences. As cities are becoming “smarter,” even more data is collected to serve the needs of their residents. In London, for example, tsmart garbage bins were installed to collect data from people’s phones and provide them with targeted ads.
Daniel Markuson commented: “In the city of the future, there is no place for privacy. In Singapore, sensors and cameras were placed all over the city, and it allowed the government to track every step citizens made. Beijing Airport has recently deployed a face-recognition system, so travellers don’t even need passports. It all sounds good until we think about activists, who can easily be tracked thanks to such technologies.”
With all the internet-connected devices around us, police have an unprecedented ability to monitor our lives. More than that, the police are now able to assign a threat “score” to a person based on their social media activity: “It comes down to the fact that a person’s tweet can be used against them in court to prove their character.”
What can be done to protect your privacy?
“Data manipulation by companies has both positive and negative effects on consumers. But it is much easier to control the impact if we have knowledge about what information is collected and how,” digital privacy expert Daniel Markuson concluded.
Here are some tips for users who want to maintain their privacy:
● Know your threat model. A threat model is an analysis of how vulnerable you are and who might want to take advantage of that.
● Use the right tools. Once you know your threat model, you can choose your tools based on how you browse the internet and what information you need to protect.
● Learn good internet habits. The best security or anonymity tools won’t help you if you fall for a scam or decide to share private information on social media. Make sure you understand the tools you use online and where your data may end up when you share it.