You probably have no idea how many companies have data on you

People in the UK are generally clueless about how many companies really hold sensitive data about them.

People in the UK are generally clueless about how many companies really hold sensitive data about them. This is according to a new poll by sensitive data experts, Ground Labs. Ground Labs has asked consumers in the UK how many companies, they think, hold sensitive data on them. The usual answer was between 10 and 20, but in reality it is much, much more. Ground Labs says at least 50 online services and retailers are in possession of their customer's sensitive data, and that number could be even higher. 

“Unless customers have an accurate idea of who has access to their data, they are unable to take the precautions necessary to protect themselves online.” said John Cassidy, VP EMEA, Ground Labs. 

“Customers dramatically underestimate how many companies have access to their information, as illustrated by our survey. We only asked people to pick from fifty of the biggest online companies, in reality, the number of organisations who have access to any one individual’s data is much, much higher than our survey suggests.”  

Ground Labs says the total number of companies consumers interact with is just the tip of the iceberg. Things like automatic backups, emails and data sharing between companies means there could be 'hundreds of thousands of potential copies' of your data. Companies can sometimes keep hold of this data for months, even years.  

Cassidy added: “A conservative estimate would suggest that for any given adult, hundreds of thousands of copies of personal data reside on physical devices and cloud storage platforms both in and outside of the UK. Most people are unaware of the multiplying effect when dealing with so many service providers and so the responsibility must fall on companies to protect this sensitive data.”

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens