A new online privacy study from internet security firm ESET has revealed that UK social media users are finally starting to recognise the importance of their online security, with two-thirds of Brits taking important steps to protect their privacy online.
The study, which was carried out in October 2016 and looked at the attitudes of 1000 social media users in the UK, revealed that encouragingly 68 percent of respondents have already taken steps to protect their privacy online, 75 percent believe that privacy is more important than popularity on social media and 53 percent of respondents regularly review the privacy settings on the social media accounts they use.
These findings highlight a huge change in UK internet-users’ attitudes towards privacy online, and show that recent high-profile breaches may in fact be having a positive impact by raising awareness around the importance of good cyber security and privacy practices.
Interestingly, the study also revealed a strong divide between men and women, with women proving to be more privacy savvy than men in a number of areas. For instance, almost one in ten men admitted that popularity was more important than privacy to them on social media, this compared to six percent of women. In addition to this, 36 percent of men have never taken any steps to protect their online privacy, in comparison to 29 percent of women. While over one in ten men have never reviewed the privacy settings on the social media accounts they use in comparison to five percent of women. The study also showed that 39 percent of men either don’t know or don’t think location tagging is a security issue, which is in comparison to 26 percent of women.
Other results from the study revealed that 72 percent of respondents don’t allow people they don’t know to add or follow them on social media, 57 percent don’t allow people they don’t know to see the posts and photos they upload on social media, and 68 percent recognise that tagging your location on Facebook or Twitter can be considered a security risk.
Commenting on the findings from the study, Mark James, security specialist at ESET, said: “The findings from our study show that UK social media users are finally waking up to the dangers that exist online, and the fact that there are people out there who are specifically looking to compromise their data. Data is the currency of the 21st century and cybercriminals are constantly looking at new ways to get their hands on it. However, as consumers become more privacy conscious, this becomes a more difficult job for hackers, which, in my opinion, can only be a good thing.”
“While the results of our study show that many people are beginning to take privacy more seriously, we cannot overlook the fact that there are still a number of people out there getting it wrong, who could therefore be putting themselves at risk. My advice to them would be start improving your online privacy and security now, before it is too late. This includes taking simple steps like ensuring you use a different password for all your online accounts and updating the privacy settings on the social media accounts you use so photos and posts are not public. It is also wise to carry out searches online to find out what personal information is publicly available on the internet. If you find anything which causes concern steps should be taken to have it removed. In addition to this, it is also advised that all computer users deploy a good internet security solution as this will act as a first line of defence against any online threats that target them,” continued James.