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Are You Trading Personal Information for Online Conveniences?

Imperva, Inc., the comprehensive digital security leader on a mission to help organisations protect their data and all paths to it, today released findings from a global study onconsumer perceptions of data privacy and trust in digital services. The study, which included more than 1,000 respondents from Singapore, found that in an increasingly digital world, consumers feel trapped ― sharing personal data is a requirement to use digital services, but 35% say their trust in digital service providers’ willingness to protect their personal data has decreased over the past five years.

And Singapore residents have good reason to feel this way. To a greater extent than any other country surveyed, residents have shared more personal data than two years ago. Close to half (49%) of the Singapore respondents reported doing this, compared to the global average of 37%.

When it comes to sharing data a few trends emerged:    

  • Almost three-quarters (70%) of Singapore respondents said they felt compelled to share data if they want to use any online services.
  • 60% believe there is no way to ensure companies they share data with can truly protect thisinformation – this sense of resignation is highest among all the countries surveyed.
  • Almost three-quarters (70%) feel they have no choice but to share their personal data if they want to use any online services. 
  • 60% said they share their data with so many companies that they can’t possibly verify each one’s track record of how well they look after and protect personal data. Singaporeans are more likely to feel like this compared to residents of the other countries surveyed.
  • Over a quarter (27%) think it’s ‘inevitable’ their data will be leaked at some point, so they choose not to worry about it

Despite these anxieties, half (50%) of Singapore residents admitted to sharing private information and secrets in discussions on cloud messaging apps andservices. The general level of trust in such services is low ― only 11% of Singapore respondents completely trust cloud messaging services to keep their private information absolutely private. On cloud messaging platforms,

  • 25% have said something about a colleague, friend or family member that could ruin a relationship
  • 19% have admitted saying something offensive (e.g. sexist, racist or homophobic)
  • 17% have discussed sexual fantasies or fetishes
  • 17% have knowingly lied about something
  • 14% have talked about reproductive health issues
  • Leaked data has the potential to ruin lives: 38% of Singapore respondents discussed private topics using a cloud messaging app or service. An overwhelming majority (88%) admit they could face serious consequences if their private discussions online were leaked:
  • 58% say they would ruin relationships with their friends or family if their conversations were uncovered
  • 44% could be left open to blackmail 
  • 43% would feel violated by the experience
  • 42% would have their mental health impacted
  • 35% could lose or be forced to leave their job

The “No Silver Linings” report, authored by Imperva, is informed by an online YouGov survey of 6,773 consumers aged 18 and above across Singapore (1,079 respondents), Australia, the US and the UK. The research reveals several significant trends related to consumers’ perception of trust, data security and privacy.

Beyond cloud messaging service providers, the level of trust is low for online retail and gaming companies (both 4%), and social media firms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (8%). Despite that, usage of these services is soaring – a recent study on video gaming in Singapore found that close to half (47%) of respondents played video games more often than before the pandemic hit. Similarly, the number of social media users in Singapore is projected to rise from 5.05 million in 2020 to about 5.6 million by 2025. 

“Consumers face a Catch-22 scenario: they need digital services to operate in modern life, but their trust in these services is deteriorating because organisations are failing to protect the sensitive data they have been entrusted with,” said George Lee, Regional VP, Imperva Asia Pacific and Japan. “While consumers and even the government can put pressure on enterprises to take steps to protect their data, there are actions that individuals can carry out to keep their personal information safe in this digital age.”

Tips for keeping personal information safe

  • Set strong security around your online accounts: Be sure to use strong, differentiated passwords for each account and set multi-factor authentication where possible. 
  • Think before you click: Be mindful of the information you share, and where you share it, especially if this information can be publicly accessible such as social media. Consider the reputation and legitimacy of an organisation before you share your information with them, and take a little time reviewing tracking cookies and app permissions requested. 
  • Be especially cautious with your financial information: Don’t let your online shopping accounts or browser save your payment details. If you do, you increase your risk of someone being able to access them. Use secure payment methods like PayPal or your credit card as there are dispute resolution processes available if something goes wrong. Never send your bank or credit card details via email or SMS.
  • Be alert and ready to act if there is a data breach: Keep track of data breaches and if you are a customer of an organisation that has suffered a data breach, change your password immediately and be on alert for any unusual activity.

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