A Third Of Brits ‘Have Lied To Protect Our Online Privacy’

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Symantec report finds we trust hospitals and banks with our data, but not retailers or social media sites

Britons may think they are one of the most honest nations in the world, but when it comes to online security, many of us are prone to telling the odd fib, according to new research.

That’s at least according to security firm Symantec, which found that one in three of us has provided false information online in order to safeguard our privacy, and over half (53 percent) avoid posting personal data online in order to stay safe.

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The findings come in the company’s State of Privacy Report, released today, which found that how retailers deal with our personal data is increasingly affecting who we shop with, with security now ranking as high as the quality of products and customer service when consumers decide where to shop.

Overall, only 21 per cent of Brits trusted retailers to keep their information safe, the report found, with social media sites scoring even worse with just 12 percent

Across the EU, consumers instead believed that medical institutions (68 percent), followed by banks, are the most trustworthy with personal data.

“Businesses need to be more transparent with customers on how they are keeping data secure,” said Ilias Chantzos, senior director, Symantec Government Affairs EMEA. “Security needs to be embedded into a company’s value chain, but it should also be viewed internally as a customer-winning requirement, and not just a cost.”

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The report also revealed that, despite this wariness, and often trying to take precautions to stay safe online, UK users often fall short due to a lack of knowledge.

Over half (59 percent) of consumers said they wanted to better protect their personal details, but were unsure how to actually go about protecting their personal details.

49 per cent of UK consumers are worried their data is not safe, with 59 per cent stating they have experienced a data protection issue in the past, showing the scale of threats currently on the market.

But not all the fault lies with those who we provide our data to, the report found, revealing that many users are morally dubious as well.

Despite the majority of people feel it is not fair that companies profit from trading in their personal data, with 75 percent believing their data has value (and over 55 percent saying this was more than  €1,000), over three in 10 online users (36 percent) would trade in their email address for extra monetary benefits.

Unsurprisingly, only one in five take the time to read terms and conditions in full before sharing their personal information, showing that sometimes, the blame is equally shared.

“The IT industry has an opportunity to assist the consumer in making sensible choices around data privacy,” says Darren Thomson, CTO and VP of Technology, EMEA.

“The State of Privacy report shows that many consumers today are considering what their data might be worth to others.  Businesses should act now to demonstrate the security of personal data they hold, in turn this will enable them to grow their business with accurate data and a loyal customer base.”

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