To this effect, the security research firm decided to survey 2,310 US citizens from across six individual states (New York, California, Texas, Colorado, Virginia, and Florida), with ages ranging from 18 to over 65. These individuals were then queried with regards to common best practices for online security, and whether or not they were adhered to. Ultimately, while the data ended up being more optimistic than I had personally projected, numbers still fell short of the halfway mark for any of the parameters.
To explain what I mean by this, let’s take an example from the study itself. Citizens were asked whether or not they read privacy policies before accepting them; 38% of the male population stated that they did so, and 40% of the female population concurred. While these figures are higher than what I expected, they’re still not numbers worth bragging about. Of the entire sample population, only 38% had ever requested the removal of personal data from businesses, and of these, an even smaller percentage of 24% were aware of services that could help with the process.
There’s a gap in either knowledge or effort that’s being heavily abused by online businesses and platforms. Sure, policies are easy to read, but they’re intentionally typed out to be exhaustively long and arduous to read. Likewise, businesses also exploit a user’s lack of awareness about how much agency they have over their data. No one’s going to hunt down a business, asking to remove personal data because the average populace isn’t aware of that being an option. Honestly, even if they were, I just know that customer support would keep redirecting requests until the person gets sick.
However, these figures aren’t necessarily indicating a generalized lack of knowledge, just specific gaps and holes. For example, the vast majority of individuals reported being fully aware that their data is being siphoned by online platforms. It’s just that the number of aware individuals plummets when the question of reclaiming said data is posed. 80% of the respondents also expressed their dissatisfaction with the US government, agreeing that not enough was being done by the body to curb invasions of online privacy.
Finally, the research article delves into cybercrime and how often users encounter it. 98% of the respondents have encountered spam emails, with 75% claiming to encounter them with alarming frequency. Other common forms of cybercrime involved Robo-calls, online scams in the form of phishing links and such, and personal data breaches.
Read next: Delete these business apps right now if you care about your online privacy