Tech companies fail the privacy test, survey reveals

Daniel de BruinPRLog (Press Release) – Apr. 17, 2014 – The survey of peoples’ attitudes to data security and data privacy reveals that, despite several high profile security breaches, 37% of Britons still believe banks can be relied upon to safeguard their personal details.

In contrast 18% believe security agencies such as GCHQ can be trusted to protect their data privacy compared with 8% for mobile phone manufacturers, 7% for mobile signal providers, 5% for politicians and just 5% for social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter.

The survey also reveals that over 60% of people would never use location sharing functions on mobile devices, even with friends, compared with 19% who said they always would, while 75% said they would never use mobile apps such as Facebook Messenger, whose terms of acceptance include allowing access to personal data and, in some cases, control over the user’s device, compared with under 10% who said they would.

Around 400 adults across the UK were questioned in the online poll conducted by Modelling Design Partners (MDP), an Edinburgh-based software company.

The findings appear to indicate that people view banks as the most trustworthy organisations when it comes to protecting their data in an online world.

Several data-loss incidents at social media and other media companies appear to have had a greater negative impact on consumer trust, according to the findings.

The findings indicate a shift in how people view privacy at home, specifically related to data generated by newly connected online gadgets, such as smart electricity meters and smart televisions, a phenomenon dubbed the ‘Internet of Things’, or ‘IoT’.

Daniel de Bruin, managing director at MDP, said the findings appear to show that most people are concerned about data security and their online privacy.

“We’re heading towards a world in which more of our lives are automated and yet people are worried about who owns data on them and how safe it is,” he said.

“The relentless process of connectivity to the web of household objects has opened up new fronts for cyber fraud and people have real concerns about it.”

The survey results reveal that the number of IoT devices is increasing rapidly, with around 40% of respondents already owning more than 5 internet-connected devices in their homes, and just under 10% with more than 10. Some 8% already have electricity meters connected to the internet, and 5% have central heating or thermostats connected.

Roughly half of respondents, 54%, were aware that hackers are able to use refrigerators to spread email spam. Recent articles revealed that the number of spam emails originating from internet connected home appliances has grown at a very rapid rate.

Roughly a quarter, 22%, said they would be happy to install CCTV cameras in their homes to protect their security compared with almost half, 47% who said they would not be happy (32% remained unsure). However, more than two thirds, 67%, said they felt comfortable with police using CCTV cameras outside their homes, compared with only 15% who were against the practice.

Respondents were questioned during a two week-period in March and their responses were weighted according to age, gender, social class and geographical location.

Roughly two thirds had more than 10 downloaded apps installed on their smart phones with almost three quarters, 71% having more than 10 apps installed on their tablets.

However only 21% said they read the acceptance terms before downloading apps onto their devices, compared with 79% who didn’t. A majority, 71%, said they would or might be prepared to allow electricity companies to monitor their power use but only 6% said they would be happy for their provider to share the data with other companies.

De Bruin said: “The findings support our belief that, in future, individuals will demand to have far more control over their own data and this will require them to be rewarded for sharing their data, in much the same way as loyalty cards are essentially data gathering tools, but reward their users for gathering the data about themselves and making it available. The same is starting to happen with online data, and the reward aspect will very soon become the norm.”

·         For more information go to

·         Some findings of the MDP survey were presented at the InterOp IoT global summit in Las Vegas by Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager at Xively.

·         Last year JPMorgan Chase & Co warned 465,000 holders of prepaid cash cards issued by the bank that their personal information may have been accessed by hackers. The cards were issued for corporations to pay employees and for government agencies to issue tax refunds, unemployment compensation and other benefits.

·         In 2009 HSBC was fined £3m by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) for failing to properly look after its customers’ information and private data. An investigation found unencrypted customer details on open shelves and unlocked cabinets. Details of 370,000 customers were also sent via the post or couriers to third parties, and staff were not trained in dealing with risks associated with identity theft.

·         On at least two occasions in 2012, the NHS was forced to admit losing two unencrypted USB sticks containing highly sensitive personal patient data.  In the first instance, the device in question contained data relating to around 600 maternity patients. A second USB stick containing the names and dates of birth of 30 children and full audiology reports of a further three was also lost. This caused great embarrassment to the NHS, and distress to the patients whose confidential information was compromised.

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