The Secret is Out: 4-in-10 online users in APAC faced private data leak

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A recent survey conducted by global cybersecurity company Kaspersky has revealed that 40% of consumers from the Asia Pacific (APAC) have faced incidents where their private information was accessed by someone who did not have their consent. This is while more than 5-in-10 online users in the region have expressed their equal concern in terms of guarding their virtual and physical lives.

The Kaspersky Global Privacy Report 2020 is a study into the state of consumer attitudes towards online privacy. The survey was conducted by independent research agency Toluna between January and February 2020. A total of 15,002 consumers were surveyed across 23 countries wherein 3,012 were from the APAC region.

Some of the breaches involve accounts being access without permission (40%), illegal takeover of devices (39%), confidential data being stolen and used (31%), private data being accessed by someone without consent, and private information being divulged publicly (20%).

Ironically, the same research found out that more than one-fifth of the users are still willing to sacrifice their privacy to gain a product or a service for free. Another 24% of the respondents also let their guards down by sharing social media account details for funny quizzes, such as what kind of flower they are or what celebrity they look. Moreover, 2-in-10 of consumers surveyed also admitted they need some help to learn how to protect their privacy online.

“Our data on hand suggests a complex online behaviour within our region. It is a welcome progress that majority of consumers are now concerned about their online privacy but their virtual habits and security know-how must undergo an overhaul,” comments Stephan Neumeier, Managing Director for Asia Pacific at Kaspersky. “With the current remote working situation in the majority of the countries in APAC, digital privacy should be a concern for both personal users and enterprises. Our corporate networks have reached the comfort of our homes, in turn increasing cybercriminals’ surface of attack. It’s definitely high time to improve cyber hygiene for both our personal and professional reputation and peace of mind.”

When asked about the consequences they encountered after a privacy breach, the online users enumerated negative aftermaths concerning their digital and even physical lives. Most (39%) were disturbed by spam and adverts, some (33%) were stressed, and a portion (24%) claimed their personal reputation was damaged.

In equal percentage, 19% of users offended someone, lost money, and were bullied. Blackmail was also experienced by 16% of the users in APAC, familial relationships were dented (15%), some careers were damaged (14%) and romantic bonds ended or underwent a divorce (10%).

“Cybercriminals tend to follow chaos. Whenever there is a major trend or a crisis, they will use it as a perfect opportunity to exploit the heightened human emotions which make users more vulnerable. To protect yourself during this critical time, it is important to be careful about the personal particulars you share online and to understand how these data will be used. Revisit your privacy settings and tweak them accordingly. The internet is a place of opportunities and anyone can benefit from it as long as we know how to intelligently manage our data and our online habits,” adds Neumeier.

To make sure your personal information remains protected on the internet, Kaspersky advises consumers to:

  • Keep a list of your online accounts so you have a full understanding of which services and websites may be storing your personal information
  • Start using “Privacy Checker” that helps consider setting your social media profiles to private. It will make it harder for third parties to find highly personal information
  • To identify potentially dangerous or questionable requests made by an app, and understand the risks associated with different types of common permissions, install Kaspersky Security Cloud. The product also incorporates a Do Not Track feature to prevent the loading of tracking elements that monitor your actions on websites and collect information about you
  • For businesses, teach employees about the basics of cybersecurity. For example, not opening or storing files from unknown emails or websites as they could be harmful to the whole company, or to not use any personal details in their passwords. In order to ensure passwords are strong, staff shouldn’t use their name, birthday, street address and other personal information.
  • Regularly remind staff of how to deal with sensitive data, for example, to only store it in trusted cloud services that need to be authenticated for access and that it should not be shared with untrusted third parties