From email addresses to phone numbers, and from places of work to dates of birth, there's an alarming amount of information about us online. Europeans have lost track of how far their personal data has traveled, which companies or platforms hold information about their identities, or even how much is 'out there' about their own children. In short, too many people in Europe have lost control of their personal data. This is one of the key issues that will be discussed at Kaspersky Next, the conference that is bringing cyber experts together in Barcelona from 29-31 October. It is also an issue that Kaspersky Lab is on a mission to solve: the company's start-up incubator is launching a Beta version of its Privacy Audit service at the event, specifically designed to give consumers a way to find out what information is out there about them in the online world.
Following a study of more than 7000 consumers across Europe, Kaspersky Lab has discovered that a loss of personal data control is something that impacts most people in Europe. There are many reasons for this, with findings showing that 64% do not know all the places where their personal data is stored across the web. Perhaps worse still, is the 39% of parents who do not even know what personal data their children are sharing online.
Time to Care
Kaspersky Lab's research shows that consumers do care about the fate of their information; 88% care if their data is used unlawfully. Furthermore, 57% would feel scared and/or stressed if their personal financial data was hacked into. Notably, just 45% of respondents trust large businesses to take care of their data and only 36% believe their data is secure on social media sites.
Despite this, consumers are not doing much to help themselves and a worrying number of respondents get even the simple things wrong. One in five (20%) do not password protect their Wi-Fi, 31% agreed with the statement 'I have never updated the security options on my Wi-Fi router' and 30% do not protect their devices with security software.
Of course, even where businesses and consumers have put some barriers in place, common human behaviors can render them useless. Businesses that protect personal data carefully still cannot prevent users from doing dangerous things like using the same password for multiple accounts, sharing their passwords with others or making them easy to guess, or failing to secure their router.
From complacency to control
So why are people apparently so quick to lose control of their own data? This, and many other questions around the issue of privacy, will be discussed in detail on a panel entitled The Price of Privacy in an Age of Data Promiscuity at the Kaspersky Next conference in Barcelona. Marco Preuss (Director of GReAT, Europe at Kaspersky), Eva Galperin (CEO of EFF), and Nevena Ruzic (Head of Compliance at the Information Commissioner's Office, Serbia) will be sharing their varied expertise on the subject.
The fact that Kaspersky Lab's incubator is launching a new solution - Privacy Audit - at the event, will form part of the panel's discussion. The experts will discuss the challenges of protecting people's privacy online, the increasing value of personal data, and whether people really understand and value their privacy.
Nevena Ruzic, Head of Compliance at the Information Commissioner's Office Serbia, comments:
"We have come to a point where our personality is much more exposed online than offline and the reason for this is that we are naïve when we believe the online services we use are 'free'. While, as internet users, we should be more aware of where we provide our data online, the organisations that process our data have a duty to do so in accordance with not just legal, but also ethical, norms."
As Marco Preuss, Head of Kaspersky's Global Research and Analysis Team in Europe puts it,
"People know they must protect their own data, because failing to do so can be disastrous. If your data is stolen you may lose money, be chased for a debt that somebody else has run up, your reputation may be destroyed, you may even be accused of a crime. Your information may be sold and the money used to fund all sorts of crime."
Time to Act
It is now possible for people to regain control of their data with Privacy Audit.me. The new service is a web-based tool that gives users control of their data privacy online. Its automated console provides a 'one stop shop' for management of the user's personal data held at different web sites and sources, and lets them establish and control the extent of their privacy online. The intention is for Privacy Audit to become a digital privacy advocate for its users - and now, more than ever, consumers need that functionality. Privacy Audit is available in a Beta version in the UK, with a wider roll out planned for 2019.