In today’s connected world, businesses are prime targets for cyber-attacks and unintentional missteps can result in critical exposure of consumers’ sensitive personal information. According to the 2018 Norton LifeLock Cyber Safety Insights Report, released today, from Norton™ LifeLock™, a Symantec company, based on an online survey conducted by The Harris Poll of over 1,000 adults, shows that 4 out of 5 consumers (83%) in the UAE are more alarmed than ever about their privacy. However, the majority accept certain risks to their online privacy out of convenience (57%) and are willing to sell or give away certain personal information, such as their location (75%) and internet search history (77%), to companies. The findings also show that consumers in the UAE are far more likely to be willing to pay to have their personal data protected than other consumers globally.
According to the research findings, 88% of UAE consumers believe it is important for companies to give customers control of how their personal data is used, while over a third (35%) believe it is absolutely essential. Adequate recourse is also expected when personal information is not protected. 405 of consumers believe it is absolutely essential that companies are required to provide a way for consumers to report misuse of their personal data, or consequently be fined. The most trusted organisations in the country for managing and protecting personal information is the government with 64% trusting a lot, followed by healthcare providers at 41% and financial institutions with 35%. Retailers and social media providers are the least trusted with 16% and 14% respectively.
In contrast to other countries surveyed, UAE consumers are more willing to pay to have their personal data protected. 72% of consumers would be willing to make a payment to healthcare providers to ensure their personal information is protected and 71% said the same about financial institutions. In other countries surveyed, this willingness is significantly lower. In Germany for example, less than 3 in 10 are willing to pay healthcare providers (28%) or financial institutions (28%) to protect their personal information. Further, most consumers in the UAE are willing to pay to have retailers (66%) and social media providers (61%) protect their information, compared to only 19% and 17% respectively in the Netherlands – highlighting a large discrepancy.
“Our cyber safety is inherently tied to trust,” said David Ribeiro, Head of Consumer Sales & Marketing, Middle East & Africa, Symantec. “Most consumers are aware their data is being captured from the websites they visit, the social media they share and the apps they use, and trust their information is being properly secured. However, these same consumers are often unaware how and why data is captured and what companies do with it. The sheer amount of personal information being collected about us shows no signs of slowing and there is greater value placed on it than ever before.”
What’s Next for Cyber Safety?
Over the last year alone, over 2.5 million UAE consumers – or 54% of the UAE adult population – have experienced one or more cyber-crimes. 595 of those said they have experienced the loss of at least some money. The report found that on average AED 1,568 were being lost, taking the toll to an estimated total of AED 4 billion in only 12 months.
The victims have spent an average of 11.4 hours resolving the issue and one in three (36%) even had to spend more than a week to resolve it completely. In fact, 67% of consumers expect to experience cyber-crime in the next 12 months.
There are several best practices consumers can follow to help safeguard against online threats:
-Never open suspicious-looking emails: Cybercriminals send fake emails or texts that may look legitimate. The links in these emails or texts contain malicious software that can download malware and spyware. The software may be able to mine your computer for personal information, which is then sent to a remote computer where the attacker could sell the information on the dark web or use the information to commit identity theft.
-Own your online presence: Carefully read the terms and conditions before opening an account or downloading an application, including social media accounts. Be sure to, set the privacy and security settings on web services and devices to your comfort level for information sharing.
-Get two steps ahead and manage your passwords: Switch on two-step verification or multi-factor authentication wherever offered to help prevent unauthorised access to your online accounts. Always change the default passwords to something strong and unique on your devices, services, and Wi-Fi networks.
Additional UAE findings include:
-93% of UAE consumers have taken measures to protect their information, including limiting information shared on social media, carefully reading the terms and conditions and changing the default privacy setting on their devices.
-More than 1 in 3 (37%) have deleted a social media account due to privacy concerns in the past 12 months.
-80 percent of parents of minors are concerned that their child will experience identity theft due to an action their child has taken (such as shared their personal information on social media or downloaded an app that could compromise their personal information), while 73% are concerned that the same might happen owning to an action they have not taken (such as not storing documents in a secure location or not monitoring their child’s online activities) and 68% are concerned they put their child directly at risk through their own actions.
To learn more about the real impact of cyber-crime and how consumers can help protect their online privacy, identity, and digital information, visit here.