Do you realize how much of your personal information is on the internet?
Every person who uses the internet leaves a trail. Some, if not all of our data is available for others (our social media contacts, companies, hackers, the government) to see. With each passing day, the illusion of privacy fades, while the possibility of data breaches grows.
The potential of the internet is immense and, at times, unknown. While it’s mostly used for communication, entertainment, and business, it may also be a venue for cybercrimes.
Here is a collection of startling internet privacy statistics that all online users should take into account.
Online Privacy Statistics to Keep in Mind in 2021 (Editor’s Choice)
- 79% of Americans are worried about the protection of their personal information.
- An average of 53% of online users are more concerned about internet privacy now than they were a year ago.
- Half of Americans were concerned about data and phone privacy in 2019.
- 81% of Americans believe they have little control over the information they share
- People were stripped of $16 billion in 2017 as a result of identity theft.
- A hacker strikes every 39 seconds.
Social Media Privacy Statistics: Outrageous and Alarming
Social media helps us to connect with our friends, family, business partners, and clients. It’s a crucial part of our everyday lives. However, there are big security concerns surrounding social media—including a huge risk of privacy exploitation.
Let’s take a quick look at some impressive social media privacy facts that highlight just how seriously we should take our online privacy.
1. More than 20% of online users are victims of account hacking.
(Source: Security Today)
According to the latest information security stats, account hacking affects roughly 21% of online users. These hacked accounts include both email and social media accounts that are utilized for a variety of unauthorized purposes.
Back in 2018, 32.7% of the email and social media community had suffered at least one hack online.
2. 73% of internet users in the US are concerned about their information’s privacy.
(Source: Data Privacy Manager)
People are worried about technology privacy issues—especially after the Cambridge Analytica debacle. As a result of said scandal, 73% of internet users in the United States became concerned about how their information is handled; 26% went so far as to say they were “extremely concerned” about it.
3. Around 25% of adult internet users confess to posting sensitive personal information on major social networking platforms.
In spite of all the statistics on social media dangers, one out of every four internet users admits to posting sensitive information (phone numbers, addresses, personal email address, etc.) online.
This illustrates how quickly individuals forget the fundamentals of internet safety.
4. More than 40% of adults in the US have been victims of online harassment.
The number of online harassment victims has shot up in the past couple of years. According to an online privacy and security survey conducted in 2020, 44% of US internet users had personally encountered some type of online harassment.
More than half of them (28%) were victims of severe forms of online harassment, such as violent threats, sexual harassment, stalking, and persistent harassment.
5. 42% of Instagram users are victims of cyberbullying.
While social media is a fantastic method to connect with friends and family, it can also attract trolls or bullies. According to internet user statistics, Instagram is the most concerning platform in terms of bullying—as of 2017, 42% of users had been harassed on the platform.
Facebook takes the second place with 37%, followed by Snapchat (31%), YouTube (10%), and Twitter (9%).
6. Nearly 10% of US online users believe privacy is a myth.
A recent survey conducted in the United States asked participants to explain what online privacy is. The results show that 14% of the respondents associated it with control and the desire to choose which elements of their lives are visible to others; 13% thought about it in terms of others being unable to access their private lives.
9% stated that privacy doesn’t exist—a sobering thought, isn’t it?
7. The majority of mobile users don’t mind user data collection if it gets them free online content.
According to a study performed in 2019, 58% of respondents indicated that they were willing to provide data on which mobile applications and websites they use, so they could avoid paying for online content.
Only 29% of respondents would rather pay for content than disclose their personal information.
Online Privacy Issues: Rising Rapidly
The web is a risky place to exchange personal information.
Internet privacy has been a big issue over the last few years. News of data breaches hitting individuals, mainstream media, businesses, and even huge celebrities reach us more often than we’d like to admit.
Let’s take a quick look at some amazing internet privacy statistics that highlight some of the challenges online users are facing.
8. A cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds.
(Source: Security Magazine)
By the time you have finished reading this article, at least a couple of devices will be already compromised.
An average of 2,244 cyberattacks happen every day. This means 2,244 attempts to steal data, modify computer files, or perform other cybercrimes via another person’s device.
9. The majority of people around the world were more worried in 2019 than in 2018 about online privacy.
According to recent online privacy statistics, 53% of internet users worldwide were at least somewhat more concerned about internet privacy, compared to the previous year.
The country with the highest percentage of increasingly concerned people was Nigeria (82%), followed by Egypt (76%) and India (73%).
The US ranked below the worldwide mark, with 47%.
10. 79% of Americans are worried about the protection of their personal information.
Although most people claim to be concerned about online privacy violations, a recent survey shows that 38% of those polled had no idea how to secure their data.
In fact, 46% have no clue where to begin safeguarding the sensitive information they provide on the internet. That’s just sad, especially considering the wide availability of more and more ID protection services.
11. 34% of internet users in the US believe that their personal information is very vulnerable to hackers.
According to recent internet privacy statistics, 81% of Americans think their data and personal info are at least somewhat vulnerable to hackers.
The study suggests that just 2% of the people in the US believe their data isn’t susceptible to hacking at all.
12. More than 30% of females in the US feel that their data is vulnerable to hackers.
That same study revealed that 33% of female respondents thought their data and personal information online were very vulnerable to hackers.
For comparison, just 23% of male respondents felt the same.
13. Identity theft is the main online privacy and security concern for 72% of Americans.
Identity theft and fraud were cited as the main concerns about data privacy in a survey conducted in 2019. Stolen passwords came in second place, affecting 64% of the survey’s participants.
Other privacy issues with technology were also cited, such as location tracking, unsolicited marketing communications, and information being sold for profit.
14. There were 1001 cases of data breaches in the US throughout 2020.
Although the number of data breaches in the US decreased from 2019 to 2020, privacy issues in America are still a huge concern. Last year, 155.8 million people were affected by data exposures.
(Data exposure is defined as the unintentional disclosure of sensitive information due to inadequate data security.)
15. 86% of US internet users have tried to delete or reduce their digital footprint.
(Source: Pew Research Center)
Although it’s nearly impossible to completely erase one’s online presence, there are certain actions people can take to remove their digital footprint. For example, they can delete cookies, encrypt their email, or disguise their IP address by using virtual networks.
The latest digital footprint statistics show that 86% of internet users in the US have attempted to delete or mask their digital traces.
Government Surveillance Statistics: Are They Watching?
Being linked to the world’s greatest information base comes with a cost. It’s not just hackers and cybercriminals that people in the US are concerned about when it comes to online privacy. Remember the Edward Snowden scandal?
Let’s take a quick look at some amazing internet privacy facts that highlight government involvement in data privacy.
16. 64% of Americans do not trust the government in terms of privacy.
The Snowden scandal raised online privacy concerns for people all around the globe. Specifically, only 6% of Americans feel internet privacy and security have gotten more stable in recent years.
Roughly 70% of people stateside feel less confident in their social media privacy and the security of their personal data compared to 2016.
17. 5% of internet users in the US try to avoid being observed by the government.
(Source: Tech Crunch)
Do you want to know some fun digital footprint statistics?
33% of internet users are trying their best to hide from hackers; 28%, from advertisers; 11%, from their office staff; and 4%, from law enforcement agencies.
18. Governments around the world requested user information from Facebook nearly 200 thousand times in just the second half of 2020.
Looking at the latest government surveillance facts, The United States is on top of the list of countries whose governments made the most user data requests from Facebook in the second half of 2020—US law enforcement agencies issued no less than 61,262 requests.
India came in second place with 40,300 user data requests, followed by Germany (12,715), France (11,131), and Brazil (11,100).
The majority of the user data requests are under the “legal process” category, which includes search warrants and court orders.
19. 63% of US internet users don’t understand their country’s law concerning online privacy.
(Source: Pew Research Center)
Recent online privacy statistics reveal that six out of ten Americans believe they have very little to no awareness of the rules and regulations that are presently in place to safeguard their privacy.
Only 3% of respondents believe they have a good understanding of these laws, while the rest say they understand them somewhat.
Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online
- Keep your email address and phone number confidential.
- Use texting applications that provide end-to-end encryption.
- Browse your content in incognito mode or use a quality VPN.
- Don’t post (all) your personal information on social media.
- Be careful before you click on something. Don’t fall for scams.
- Update your system regularly and use antivirus.
- Change your password regularly or use a password manager.
Online privacy fears are real. Every day people are taking more precautions to ensure that their personal information does not end up in the wrong hands. The global desire for improved data security has become a key motivation for digital firms to step up, but the risk of privacy invasion and security breaches is still there.
These internet privacy statistics may be alarming, but it’s important that you are aware of the dangers and that you learn how to safeguard your internet privacy.