McAfee today released findings from the company's 2013 Love, Relationships, and Technology survey which examines the pitfalls of sharing personal data in relationships and discloses how breakups can lead to privacy leaks online. The study highlights the need for consumers to take steps to protect themselves from cyber-stalking and exposure of private information.
Nearly two-thirds of smartphone owners have personal and intimate information on their mobile devices, such as bank account information, passwords, credit card numbers and revealing photos, yet only 40% have password protection on their devices. This leaves a gap in personal data protection, which results in exposure.
"We're all aware of the cases involving celebrities, but you don't have to be a celebrity to have your personal information exposed," said Michelle Dennedy, an online security expert for McAfee. "Sharing passwords with your partner might seem harmless, but it often puts you at risk for a 'revenge of the ex' situation, landing private information in a public platform for all to see. Everyone needs to be aware of the risks and take the steps to make sure their personal data is safe and secure."
Top findings from the survey include:
Relationships, Break Ups and Personal Data
Despite public awareness of data leaks and high profile celebrity photo scandals, Americans continue to take risks by sharing personal information and intimate photos with their partners and friends. The research shows that 94% of Americans believe their data and revealing photos are safe in the hands of their partners.
However, McAfee has found that 13% of adults have had their personal content leaked to others without their permission. Additionally, 1 in 10 ex-partners have threatened that they would expose risqué photos of their ex online. According to the study, these threats have been carried out nearly 60% of the time.
Of those surveyed these were the partner actions that lead to the exposure of personal data:
1. Lied (45%)
2. Cheated (41%)
3. Broke up with me (27%)
4. Called off wedding (14%)
5. Posted picture with someone else (13%)
6. Other (13%)
About 1/4 of the population has regretted sending such intimate content after a break up and 32% of people have even asked their ex-partner to delete all personal content.
Sending Personal Content
Despite the risks, 36% of Americans still plan to send sexy or romantic photos to their partners via email, text and social media on Valentine's Day. Significantly more men plan to do so, compared to women (43% vs. 29%), even though men get threatened to have their photos exposed online more than women (12% vs. 8%) and often have the threats carried out more than women (63% vs. 50%).