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Online privacy worldwide - statistics & facts

The infamous Yahoo data breach – one of the largest of its kind to date which affected some three billion user accounts globally – put cybercrime on the map as one of the largest up-and-coming threats of today. While phishing, malware and viruses have been long established concerns in the domain of cybersecurity, the implementation of the European GDPR, followed by the onslaught of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and resulting contact-tracing apps have opened a whole new realm of concern within the industry. In fact, cybersecurity technology is expected to continue growing in 2021, particularly in the areas of web and email protection, and security analytics.

The pushback against Big Tech

With only about 30 percent of Europeans claiming they would delete a default search app they did not like, recent debate has been sparked in the area of pre-installed applications on smart devices which ultimately locks users – and their personal data - into a single ecosystem run by big-tech figures such as Google or Apple. It appears that users are moderately aware of this, with smart devices ranking among the three least-trusted parties, alongside social media and governments when it came to data sharing. Meanwhile, healthcare providers are the most trusted parties, with an overall confidence score of 89 percent globally. In the United States, medical data is also the most valuable form of data targeted, with data breaches within the healthcare sector costing the most – an average of 7 million U.S. dollars, ahead of both the energy and financial industries. Here, valuable data such as medical history, patient billing information and prescription records makes the sector a particularly attractive target for cybercrime organizations.

Rising privacy concerns

Skepticism is high in India and the United States, with 86 and 75 percent of internet users respectively claiming they are proactively looking for ways to secure themselves online. Common measures here include strong password-selection, the use of two-factor authentication and switching to privacy-oriented browsers such as DuckDuckGo which has risen in popularity within the United States since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. With most of the world being forced into lockdown and onto their mobile devices, the number of users agreeing to share their location via mobile apps increased in 2020 – most notably in Latin America and the Caribbean. This was undoubtedly intensified by the introduction of contact-tracing apps, which has since sparked additional privacy-related concerns.


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