Steganos has discovered that 64% of people would be more worried about someone else having access to all their personal data than they would about the cost of the hardware if their computer was lost or stolen. Despite this, while nearly 70% said that their PC hardware was insured against theft, just 12% used encryption to keep their personal data secure even if files fell into the wrong hands.
Survey participants were asked what data from their hard disk they would be most worried about appearing on the internet: 27% said digital photographs, 27% said personal emails, 19% were worried about their personal documents and just 16% said they had nothing on their hard drive that would bother them. Things that people said they would be embarrassed about being made public include: emails to girlfriend, arguments with boyfriend, photos of drunken nights out with friends, business data, badly written poems (“the people I write about would be offended”), journals, adult browsing history, wills, and family tree research.
Despite the high level of concern about data falling into the wrong hands, few users took adequate precautions. Only 12% of respondents said that they used encryption software to ensure that nobody else could access their personal information, even if the medium it was stored on was lost or stolen. This compares with 73% who use antivirus software, 66% who password protect data, 41% who use a firewall, and 30% who use antispyware.
The primary reason for not using encryption was, according to 41%, simply that they had never considered the possibility, whereas 31% said they wouldn’t know where to start. Only 7% of people said that they thought encryption software would be too complicated to use and 10% thought it would be expensive. As many as 20% of people conceded that they knew they should use encryption, but they hadn’t got around to it yet. (Users were allowed to pick up to three reasons).
Aston Fallen, managing director for Steganos said: “This research clearly demonstrates that people understand that the data stored on their computers is far more valuable and important than the actual computer itself. It highlights the need for affordable, easy to use encryption software, such as Steganos Safe 8, that enables everybody to ensure that no matter what happens to their computer, their private data remains secure and hidden from prying eyes.”