Brits Are Still Not Taking Privacy Seriously

Thomas Wellburn
May 11, 2017

As smartphones become ever-more ubiquitous in society, the number of people leaving themselves open for privacy concerns continues to climb.

According to research conducted by American case manufacturer Peli, over 50% of children aged 13 plus now own their own mobile phone in Europe, while 18% of children aged between six and eight also have their own device. One of the main reasons for buying younger children a mobile device is distraction, with 20 percent of parents admitting to occupying their children in restaurants with smartphones.

Many of these parents will freely share password information throughout the family, which is one of the most common ways to compromise your data.  A survey conducted by Ebuyer, the UK’s largest independent tech retailer, has shown that Brits are still not taking their privacy seriously enough. A shocking 89% admitted letting up to 4 people know their social media passwords, which could be friends, family or partners.

Sharing passwords is pretty common these days and shows a certain level of trust between friends and partners. In relationships especially, it’s now a right of passage to prove you are faithful. A 2015 study by Samsung claimed that 56% of people believe sharing passwords is a sign of true love. You may think it’s an innocent sign of affection, but the problem is that most people tend to recycle that same password for things such as banking.

Passwords and Privacy Go Hand-In-Hand

Just last year, a survey from the the government backed Get Safe Online initiative, showed that 43% of Brits use the same password on multiple sites. While it’s okay to share information with a loved one, it should be a unique phrase that can’t easily be replicated for other accounts. The use of identical and predictable passwords has gotten so bad that many websites now require special characters and capital letters by default, in an attempt to curb the use of identical passwords. The use of a password manager largely solves this, though most people can’t be bothered to setting one up. Clearly, the problem seems to arise through a combination of naivety and disregard for what passwords actually aim to protect.

In today’s social economic climate, where UK fraud accounted to  £10.9 billion last year according to cybercrime, the proper education of privacy is more important than ever. Time and again, people are forgetting basic fundamentals, with the Ebuyer survey also showing that 11% of people did not think strangers could find out any information at all, including their name, about them on social media.

A simple Facebook search for a persons name will reveal plenty of sensitive information such as location and age, should the privacy settings not be correctly implemented. This is information that doesn’t even need a password to be accessed. It’s also common knowledge that Facebook uses parts of your profile for targeted advertisements, though recently this trend has begun to span much more than social media websites. WhatsApp, now under acquisition by Facebook, has introduced a similar policy that will see phone numbers and usage data shared with the parent company.

Privacy is a big issue, with lots of things that need to be addressed. While developers and manufactures can patch flaws and secure software, it won’t suffice for the problems which linger under our very finger. The extent to which people disregard the basic safeguards for privacy is not something they can fix themselves; we need to fix it by being more self-aware.

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