Millions 'unconcerned' about online security - despite one in four being hacked

Millions of adults claim they are “unconcerned” about their online security – despite one in four being the victim of digital hackers.

A study of 2,000 adults revealed that a quarter (25 percent) feel their digital safety isn’t something they need to worry about, with 39 percent of those believing they already do enough to protect themselves.

But nearly a third (31 percent) of those who are unconcerned put this down to believing they don’t have anything they need to look after online.

It also emerged that 52 percent admit they should be doing more to be more secure online, with nearly half (49 percent) of those currently not doing enough because it is “too complicated”.

Another 44 percent of those find it overwhelming, while 38 percent don’t know where to start.

Millions 'unconcerned' about online security - despite one in four being hacked
© Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/Getty Images Four in ten have taken measures to be more private on social media

However, of the 24 percent of those who have been victim to an online scammer, 70 percent admitted the incident was a wakeup call to take their online safety more seriously.

And with hindsight, 64 percent of those who have been caught out believe it was avoidable.

The study also found 69 percent of adults are worried that their data and activity is being monitored.

In fact, 43 percent now believe that privacy online is no longer achievable.

Shane McNamee, chief privacy officer at digital security and privacy experts Avast, which commissioned the research, said: “Online interactions which involve people’s personal data aren’t just economic transactions, but instead are inextricably linked to digital identity or personality.

“Our research shows many people admitting that they should be doing more to further protect themselves online.”

The survey found becoming a victim of identity theft and having data stolen is the biggest concern when it comes to what we do and store online.

And almost half (45 percent) are worried about not knowing who can view their important personal information.

More than half (53 percent) are unaware their online information could be sold by sites and apps for marketing and advertising purposes, while 43 percent believe they have been targeted with an advert online after talking – despite not searching for it.

The study discovered that 41 percent have taken measures to be more private on social media – by limiting who can see content posts, turning profiles to private, and stopping sharing personal information.

Of those who have increased their privacy setting, nearly a fifth (19 percent) have had pictures stolen and used by fake profiles.

Millions 'unconcerned' about online security - despite one in four being hacked
© Aaron Tam/AFP/Getty Images Eight in ten fear George Orwell’s iconic novel 1984 is coming true

The research also explored the parallels between privacy in the digital world today, and the “big brother” society George Orwell predicted in his iconic novel 1984 over 70 years ago.

The study, carried out via OnePoll, found 82 percent of those who have read or are aware of the novel agree that the hyper-surveillance themes are beginning to come true today.

Avast has re-released Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” as “Twenty Twenty-One”, to highlight the similarities between today’s increasing online surveillance and the “big brother” society he predicted over 70 years ago.

Actor Matt Smith takes on the role of protagonist Winston Smith, reading his diary entries in the audiobook release – which is available for free via Spotify and Apple podcasts, and as a digital book via Kindle and Kobo.

Shane McNamee added: “By being informed about and reviewing the personal data consumers allow access to, and having the right tools to help take back control of their online existence, users can take steps to better protect themselves online.

“That way, we can help prevent Nineteen Eighty-Four from becoming a reality.”

Matt Smith added: “Great literature maintains a universality over the course of time – particularly true in the case of this novel, which still feels extremely pertinent today.

“I’ve got involved in this project as I feel having digital freedom online is so important in today’s society.

“In a world where we may feel required to share more of ourselves than ever before, it’s something we should endeavour to be really diligent about.”

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