64% of adults say data sharing is necessary to use online services

  • 41% of consumers worldwide say their confidence in the ability of digital service providers to keep personal data secure has declined over the past five years

  • Only 9% of consumers trust cloud messaging services, but 40% use these services to share intimate and private secrets

Imperva, Inc., the global leader in digital security whose mission is to help organizations protect their data and all the paths that lead to it, releases the results of a global study of consumer perceptions of privacy data and trust in digital service providers. In an increasingly digital world, consumers feel trapped: sharing personal data is a requirement for using digital services, but the majority do not trust these organizations to protect their data.

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“An @imperva study of global consumers reveals different perceptions of trust, data security and privacy in the digital world.”

The “No Silver Linings” report, compiled by Imperva, is informed by an online YouGov survey of 6,773 consumers aged 18 and over in the US, UK, Australia and Singapore. The research reveals several important trends related to consumer perceptions of trust, data security and privacy:

  • Exhausted consumers gave up on safety: Half of consumers surveyed say they share data with so many different companies that they can’t verify each one’s security posture. As a result, many are insensitive to the issue of data protection. One in five (20%) don’t care how much data they share online, while 26% think it’s ‘inevitable’ that their data will be leaked, so they don’t care.
  • Confidence has hit rock bottom: Even the industries that handle the most valuable and sensitive data are not trusted by consumers. Only 37% trust financial services, 33% healthcare and 29% government organizations, while only 5% trust retailers. More than a third (35%) of all consumers don’t trust any of these industries to adequately protect their data.
  • The cloud is full of secrets: Among adults who shared private secrets on a cloud messaging service or app, 16% shared their sexual fantasies or fetishes. Others share sexist, racist, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments (14%). There are also those who admit to sharing details about drug addiction (12%) or cheating on a partner (10%).
  • Data leaks have the potential to ruin lives: 79% of those who have discussed private matters admit that they could face serious consequences if their online discussions were disclosed. Almost half (47%) say it would ruin their relationships with friends or family, while 39% say it would impact their mental health and 28% would face blackmail. In addition, respondents say they could lose their job (22%), their partner (19%) or even custody of a child (10%).
  • Gen Z is more comfortable sharing data: Young adults (18-24) are more comfortable sharing their data online and are twice as likely to openly share information about their mental health. They worry less about the financial impact of data theft – only 48% cite theft of money as one of the top three concerns, compared to an average of 58%. However, this generation is concerned about their online reputation: 15% worry about someone taking over their social media account and 21% worry about a deepfake video of them circulating online.
  • New threats bring new worries, especially for women: Emerging threats, such as deepfakes, are creating new fears for consumers. When asked what they would find most upsetting if a deepfake video of them appeared, 54% of respondents said a video of them performing sexual acts. Worry was significantly higher among women surveyed (62%), likely due to heightened concerns about revenge porn.

“Consumers face a daunting scenario: They need digital services to function in modern life, but their trust in those services is deteriorating,” said Terry Ray, SVP and Field CTO, Imperva. “Companies need to focus on who is accessing their data and protect the paths a cybercriminal could exploit to gain access to the data. Investing in data-centric security must be part of every organization’s strategy as consumers become increasingly cynical about the services they use.

Although connectivity between applications and digital services creates seamless online experiences for consumers, there is cause for concern. On average, the volume of stolen records each year is growing at a rate of 224%, according to an analysis by Imperva Threat Research.

There are serious consequences for organizations that fail to secure their consumer data. Nearly half of respondents (45%) have stopped or would stop using a company’s services following a serious data breach. As the volume of attacks and data breaches grows every year, organizations need to focus on how they manage sensitive data and, more importantly, who has access to it. For every organization, large or small, this is now a business imperative.

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