Study: 83% of Australians Worry About Being Tracked Online

Study: 83% of Australians Worry About Being Tracked Online

A new survey by the cybersecurity company NordVPN reveals that 83 per cent of Aussies worry about being tracked online, and 27 per cent think they are monitored almost at all times. However, experts say that people make themselves trackable by accepting cookies, using public Wi-Fi, and even having a smartwatch: these are just some of the many ways to collect their data.

“It’s not only cybercriminals who want your data. Social media networks, ISPs, third-party organizations, websites, and governmental institutions regularly collect users’ personal data and browsing habits for marketing or other purposes. They frequently use cookies to track your digital footprints,” adds Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN.

65% of Aussies believe that they are tracked by cybercriminals

Most Australians believe that they are mostly tracked by criminals (65 per cent) and social media giants like Facebook (48 per cent). It’s not surprising they also feel that Facebook (78 per cent), WhatsApp (21 per cent), and Instagram (40 per cent) collect the biggest amount of their users’ data. Ironically, all three services belong to the same company. It’s worth adding that more than half of Australians (60 per cent) feel that apps ask for more information than necessary.

Aussies also worry about brands or advertising agencies (40 per cent), information and advertising aggregators like Google (45 per cent), and the government (36 per cent) following their activities online.

Australians are most afraid of getting their banking or financial information hacked

The survey showed that Aussies are most afraid of getting their banking or financial information (68 per cent) and passwords (61 per cent) hacked. They are also anxious about hacked emails (18%), personal or intimate photos, videos (16 per cent), and address (23 per cent).

Even though Australians are afraid of getting their financial information hacked, more than a third (38 per cent) save their banking log-in details on various devices, which is dangerous. “Entering your credit card details every time you buy something online might not seem convenient, but this is the right thing to do. The internet is not a safe place, and you shouldn’t trust third parties with your details,” said Markuson..

How are Australians tracked?

People use smartphones all day, every day — for work, fun, to get in touch with friends, or to order groceries. Perhaps that’s why 84 per cent of Aussies believe that their mobile phones are the best way to track them online, followed by laptops or desktop computers (78 per cent and 73 per cent, respectively) and tablets (66 per cent). At the same time, few people consider smart home appliances capable of spying — they were named the least likely culprits.

When it comes to the utilisation of people’s online data, the majority of Australians believe it is used for targeted ads (68 per cent) and sold to other companies (64 per cent). While thinking that cybercriminals track Australians the most, people also assume that their data is analysed to steal their identity (50 per cent).

The study also found 15 per cent of Aussies always allow cookies, and 26 per cent do so unless it looks suspicious – only five per cent never accept them.

“Another area where people often get caught out is accepting cookies. They can track and collect data from your browser and send that data back to the website owner. If you don’t decline third-party cookies, the website can sell your browsing data to those third parties,” comments Daniel Markuson from NordVPN.

Wi-fi gets people online in exchange for valuable personal sign-up data

“When you use free Wi-Fi, there is a good chance it’s managed by a third-party provider, which gets you online in exchange for your valuable sign-up data such as email address, social media profile, and phone number.

What might surprise you is that some hotspot providers are taking data collection a step further. They quietly track millions of users’ whereabouts even after they have left the establishment,” said Markuson.

Australians are most likely to log into their personal emails (38 per cent) and use social media channels with auto log-ins (37 per cent) while on public Wi-Fi. Additionally, many people used public Wi-Fi to log into other accounts (31 cent) and buy from online retailers (22 per cent).

“While we are always tracked in one way or another whenever we go online, you can and should minimize it. Get a VPN to hide your IP and location, use a privacy browser, ditch Google which tracks a lot of data about you, and just be more careful online. Keep your good cyber hygiene habits to stay safe,” said Markuson.

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