UK consumers battle with “Privacy Paralysis” as online threats rise

UK consumers feel helpless about increasingly complex online threats to their personal data and identity, a new study by Kaspersky Lab has found.

High profile cyber-attacks on websites including Ashley Madison and Mumsnet, are overwhelming consumers with fear for their online privacy, freezing them into a state of indecision around how best to protect themselves from cyber threats. Kaspersky Lab has termed this feeling Privacy Paralysis.

The survey of 1,000 UK adults revealed three-quarters of consumers (77 per cent) fear threats to their online privacy but fail to implement enough, or even any essential security measures (75 per cent). In fact, one in three (35 per cent) use and re-use simple passwords they can easily remember for their digital lives.

The biggest concern for half of all respondents (48 per cent) is their bank details becoming compromised and suffering financial loss. The threat of online identity theft is also a major worry for one in five (18 per cent), and yet the same number of people fail to check for a secure HTTPs page before making a financial transaction (20 per cent) – another symptom of Privacy Paralysis.

“The human instinct for self-preservation in the real world doesn’t always translate easily to the virtual one, where threats can’t be seen or heard as they approach you. Consumers are understandably anxious about their vulnerability online with a third (36 per cent) doubting they could spot a malicious website,” said Kirill Slavin, managing director, Kaspersky Lab.

“The good news is that even if you are a target, you don’t have to be a victim. A reassuring 60 per cent of the people we surveyed believe it’s their own responsibility to keep themselves and their information safe online, and there are tools and actions that can help do just that. For example, the latest edition of our consumer security solution includes features to stop social networks and advertising agencies reselling users’ browser activity data while also helping to remove all traces of user activity from a Windows computer alongside extra layers of security for online banking and shopping,” concluded Slavin.

The new edition of Kaspersky Lab’s consumer security solution, Kaspersky Internet Security – Multi-Device 2016, available from September, has been enhanced to provide even stronger protection for privacy, data, identity and money as well as users’ devices regardless of whether they are running on Windows, OS X or Android.

Kaspersky Lab recommends that consumers complement security software with a number of simple security steps.

These include keeping their security software up to date so that they are protected from all current threats, setting strong and unique passwords, avoiding files from untrusted sources, sharing personal information with care and running regular malware scans on their computers.

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