25 internet privacy statistics that will make you rethink your surfing habits

Internet privacy statistics - Featured image

The internet. It’s hard to imagine life without it. From basic communication with friends and loved ones to instant transactions that make standing in line as outdated as fax machines, the web has become intricately interwoven into daily life. It’s like a mirror or lens for viewing our lives.

That’s why we panic when our digital doppelgangers experience a security breach. When the information we hold dearest gets in the wrong hands we feel powerless, confused, victimized. And we renew our commitment to protecting our data online.

Here are the numbers. Here are the facts. Let’s resolve today to preserve our privacy.

Key internet privacy statistics

  • 86% of US citizens have attempted to somehow remove or decrease their digital footprint online.
  • 21% of email and social media users have experienced a cyberattack at least once.
  • 39% of Americans boldly claim they would give up sex for a whole year in exchange for better security online.
  • Just 3% of Americans say they understand how the current laws and regulations regarding online privacy in America today actually work.
  • There were 16.7 million victims of identity fraud in the US during 2017.

Section 1: The only thing people trust less than the government are the companies

1. As many as 79% of Americans on the web have concerns about online privacy when it comes to companies.

(Pew Research Center)

Online privacy has become a burning issue in recent years, with news of data breaches reaching mainstream media and becoming an almost daily nuisance. Although a lot of people express concerns about the issue, internet privacy statistics show that 38% of the surveyed group didn’t know how to secure their data. Furthermore, as many as 46% had no idea where to begin protecting the valuable information they share on the web.


2. Privacy and internet surveillance statistics show that 64% of Americans don’t trust their government.

(Pew Research Center)

In the wake of the NSA spying scandals, post-Snowden America fears being under Orwellian surveillance. In addition, seven in 10 Americans feel less safe regarding their social media privacy and the safety of their personal data than they did five years ago.

Opposed to this large majority are just 6% of Americans who believe internet privacy and security have become more stable in recent years, along with 24% of respondents who haven’t changed their opinion regarding these issues.


3. Regardless, 66% of US citizens agree with data collecting by the government, internet privacy statistics show.

(Pew Research Center)

Although they would appear to contradict the previous entry, online privacy statistics such as these shed light on how complex this issue actually is. While most people fear that companies can sell their

That’s why we panic when our digital doppelgangers experience a security breach. When the information we hold dearest gets in the wrong hands we feel powerless, confused, victimized. And we renew our commitment to protecting our data online.

or misuse it in other ways, they also believe in the integrity of the state to be at least responsible enough not to squander their data to the highest bidder. Only a small percentage (4%) of people believe government data collection can be of benefit to everyone.


4. Consumer privacy statistics show that around 81% of Americans express concerns regarding companies collecting private data.

(Pew Research Center)

To put it more plainly, eight in 10 Americans think the risks outweigh the benefits when it comes to sharing their personal data with companies that use it to optimize their marketing strategies towards individual customers. Just 5% of respondents say they have benefited from the data-collecting policies most companies enact.


5. Regardless of mistrust, internet privacy statistics from 2018 show that 48% of Americans have interacted with companies and/or institutions via social media.

(Hootsuite)

Though many see ads as a nuisance, you can’t argue with the results, which clearly show how CTA content elevates businesses on the web. On the other hand, company ads collect data when users interact with them. Statistics for internet privacy like this one drive concerns among common internet users. While people generally agree to engage with commercial content through comments, questions, and customer service, they rarely think about the information they leave behind. Respectable companies handle such data with care, but we know that there are many less-scrupulous organisations out there.


6. Globally, around 53% of online users are more concerned with internet privacy issues then they were a year ago.

(Statista)

Cybercrime is on the rise, with the Bitcoin market exploding in recent years and fintech taking over from brick-and-mortar banking. Whether it be selling internet history, stealing financial data, or identity theft, the internet is a dangerous place to openly share your personal information. Luckily, people are becoming more aware of the dangers that lurk online and the legislative framework seems to be following suit.


7. Only about 22% of Americans say they always (9%) or often (13%) read company privacy policies before agreeing to them.

(Pew Research Center)

The legal discourse in which all privacy policies are necessarily written can bore a person to tears. However, once you agree to these policies, there’s no turning back. While most people like to take their chances, privacy statistics suggest under a quarter of people who encounter terms and conditions actually bother to read them. Around 36% of respondents just waft through the agreement without even reading the first paragraph.


8. Internet privacy data statistics reveal that 6% of people have suffered reputation damage as a consequence of cyberattacks.

(Pew Research Center)

Your online persona is often what drives your social success, whether it be business-oriented or private. That’s why hackers like to target various business profiles. This causes damage to businesses’ reputation, which, in the end, might seriously affect customers’ trust in those businesses. On the other hand, nobody likes to get their social media account hijacked, as this can lead to unpredictable consequences.


9. Internet privacy statistics show that Iceland is the country that cares the most for its netizens’ data.

(Personu Vernd)

An internet privacy law enacted in 2000 under the name “Data Protection Act” serves as the basis for one of the most progressive legislative solutions a country could hope for. The law deals with important subjects like freedom of speech and data privacy while ensuring that issues like journalistic sources and other personal information remain as protected as possible. The Act also limits the transfer of personal data belonging to citizens of Iceland outside the island-state’s borders. This type of data can be transacted offshore only if enough protection is guaranteed.


10. That said, in 2013, 68% of Americans believed internet privacy laws in the US needed to improve in order to effectively protect the rights of internet users.

(Pew Research Center)

Even six years ago, internet privacy statistics showed that people were aware of legal issues surrounding the internet. This percentage goes to show how unsatisfied people were (and still are) regarding how the government deals with online privacy.

Fast forward to 2017, when President Donald Trump repealed the Internet Privacy Bill, leaving wireless and broadband providers with the right to share personal and often sensitive data without customers’ permission. The decision left the internet largely unregulated in terms of high-profile scandals like the Cambridge Analytics affair, or the case of the NSA spying on its own citizens.

Although the public reaction to such current internet issues has been quite harsh, the government response has been far from satisfying. We’re yet to witness the development of such laws that will enable people to surf the web without the meddling of high-rolling players like Google and Facebook.


11. Just 3% of Americans say they understand how the current laws and regulations regarding online privacy in America today actually work

(Pew Research Center)

On the other hand, 63% of people have no idea or understand very little altogether. What they all agree on, however, is that the state needs to step up its game and provide more regulation on the web. With the media roaring about cyberattack news and internet dangers statistics, most people have become petrified about losing their life savings in the blink of an eye or falling victim to identity theft. That’s why some 75% of American adult internet users stand by the claim that there should be more regulation regarding what companies can and can’t do with their customers’ personal data.


12. 86% of US citizens have attempted to somehow remove or decrease their digital footprint online.

(Pew Research Center)

People are turning to anonymity. Although it’s practically impossible to completely erase your existence on the internet, there are some steps people can take to delete traces of themselves from various databases that are prone to cyber threats. On the other hand, as many as 56% of respondents to Pew’s survey agree that it’s impossible to achieve full anonymity when surfing the web.


13. 59% of people consider complete anonymity virtually impossible while surfing the web.

(Pew Research Center)

There are VPNs and other ways to hide your IP address, that much is sure. However, just when you feel safe, the paranoia should probably kick in again. Although it’s often assumed that VPNs provide thorough safety, a 2018 breach of NordVPN proved otherwise. Recent security breaches like this one serve as perfect illustrations of the fact that there are no safe havens on the internet, as everything (and everyone) is prone to cybersecurity threats. Despite this, the same survey showed that 37% of people believe VPN internet privacy is rock-solid. In other words, they think VPNs provide full anonymity on the web.


14. 39% of Americans boldly claim they would give up sex for a whole year in exchange for better security online.

(Dashlane)

No, this is not a joke. If you’re looking for shocking internet privacy statistics, look no further than this 2016 survey. Funny as it sounds, there certainly is some truth in the satisfaction of finding quality online protection. With the rise of online shopping, people have become increasingly concerned about the safety of the financial data they post online.


15. Child privacy internet statistics show that 81% of parents of teens are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about how advertising companies treat their children’s data.

(Pew Research Center)

Privacy issues regarding children are always controversial. Parents often turn to parental control software, but such programs are aimed against predators, not advertisers that hoard data. Furthermore, statistics about internet privacy risks show that 46% of the surveyed parents are “very concerned” about the data collected by advertisers and how it is used.


Section 2: Internet privacy statistics that show the threat is real

16. Cybersecurity statistics conclude that an internet attack takes place every 39 seconds on average.

(Security Magazine)

Hackers are keeping everyone awake at night. Among the risks out there are “brute force” hackers. These cybercriminals use fairly basic approaches to target huge swathes of computers at random. However, researchers have now discovered which usernames and passwords are tried most often and what hackers do when they gain access to a computer.


17. Internet privacy data statistics show that 89.6% of all websites use non-secure cookies.

(W3Techs)

Websites use cookies to remember your previous visits to a website and optimize your experience as they see fit. In return, they get to keep your IP address and, sometimes, remember the password you provide. In this case, the “non-secure” cookie is not locked to HTTPS, which ensures the connection with the server is tied to the server’s certificate. This leaves it vulnerable to various types of network attacks.


18. 21% of email and social media users have experienced a cyberattack at least once.

(Statista)

Needless to say, the awareness people now have didn’t come out of the blue. If you’re an average social media user, chances are you know someone whose account has been hacked. This counts for emails as well. Of those 21% of people whose accounts have been breached, more than half (11% in total) have reported personal information theft involving their SSN, credit card, and banking data.


19. Around 12% of people have experienced harassment on the internet.

(Victims of Crime)

Internet stalkers thrive on other people’s lack of data protection. As statistics about internet privacy show, cyberstalking affects more than 6.6 million people annually. The large majority of stalking victims are female. In fact, one in six women have reported being stalked at least once in their lifetime. On the other hand, one in 19 men have reported having such experiences.


20. Contrary to popular opinion, men do get stalked. According to internet privacy facts and statistics, 5.7% of US men experience stalking at some point.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Although women are stalkers’ primary target, obsession comes in many forms, with 6.5 million American men ready to confirm that. Regardless of your gender, maintaining your internet privacy is key in protecting yourself from any unwanted visitors who want to shadow your movements on the web.


21. There were 16.7 million victims of identity fraud in the US during 2017.

(Javelin)

The most common variant of this is new account fraud, which is when a cybercriminal uses your data to open a number of new accounts in order to proliferate fraud. This further enables fraudsters to conduct more elaborate social hacking schemes like passport or banking fraud. The figure represents an 8% increase compared to 2016. When we translate that into financial damage, we get the staggering figure of $16.8 billion, making identity theft one of the burning internet issues of today.


22. Ransomware attacks increased by a staggering 118% in 2019, according to cybercrime statistics.

(McAfee)

McAfee, one of the leading names in the antivirus industry, found in its 2019 report that hackers are vigorously developing new malware that is more sophisticated, innovative, and dangerous than ever. For example, McAfee’s Advanced Threat Research discovered a new ransomware family dubbed Anatova. According to McAfee, Anatova is a modular-type malware whose purpose isn’t only to encrypt the victim’s data but also infect the device in many other ways, leaving it at risk even after the ransom has been paid.


23. Email accounts for 92% of all malware infections.

(Verizon)

Various cybersecurity articles agree that email still reigns supreme as the main means of spreading malicious software. From the notorious ILOVEYOU virus, which raised hell in 2000, to a variety of modern ransomware introduced via victims’ email inboxes, the rule applies more than ever - you could always be just one click away from ending your own digital existence. So, check yourself before you wreck yourself. Always act with caution if you notice a suspicious email; this is the best advice you can get from any leading internet security companies.


24. Around 25% of adult internet users admit to having posted sensitive personal data on popular social media websites like Facebook and Instagram.

(Brandon Gaille)

Internet privacy and social media statistics go hand in hand when it comes to this issue; both show how easily people forget about the basics of safety on the internet. This means one in four registered social media users in the United States has willingly revealed data like their phone number, home address, or email address.


25. Internet privacy statistics show that younger adults are even worse, with 34% of 16-24-year-olds willingly leaving such information open to the public.

(Social Media Statistics)

Although younger generations are expected to be the cornerstone of awareness when it comes to internet privacy issues, statistics show otherwise. Young adults have proven to be the most likely to post photos that could do damage to their social media privacy as well as online reputation. They are also likely to contact people they don’t know or accept strangers as “friends” and contacts.


FAQ

Is there privacy on the internet?

Yes. However, the threats are real as well. Online facts show that data is becoming a cybercriminal’s most valuable asset. In addition, governments and corporations also have certain interests in data gathering. In order to preserve your personal information and privacy, you need to take steps to protect yourself online.

What is privacy on the internet?

Internet privacy is a term that refers to the privacy and security of personal data published online. It also serves as an umbrella term for a variety of technologies, techniques, and other factors all aimed at protecting sensitive and private data, communications, and preferences. It is synonymous with online privacy.

Why is individual privacy important?

First of all, compromised internet privacy statistics show a growing trend in cyberattacks targeting personal data. Cybersecurity Ventures suggests that the damage from ransomware is set to reach $20 billion by 2021. The figure represents a 57-fold increase compared to 2015. That is why individual online privacy is important, and that is why you alone are responsible for securing your data and preventing it from falling into the wrong hands.

What are our privacy rights?

We all have online privacy rights that protect our personal information from public review. While internet privacy facts and statistics usually paint a grim picture of how data misuse is constantly endangering people’s privacy on the web, it is important to learn the basic legislative frame of online privacy, as privacy in America today tends to be taken lightly. Some of the most important legal documents regarding this issue in the US are the Computer Fraud And Abuse Act (CFAA), the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and the Cyber Intelligence Sharing And Protection Act (CISPA).

Is it illegal to invade someone’s privacy?

Invasion of privacy under common law allows an affected party to press charges against an individual that unlawfully invades into his/her private affairs, along with disclosing his/her private information, publicizing in a false light, or appropriating his/her identity for personal gain. The same applies to issues regarding social media and privacy, as some forms of intrusion on the internet can be subject to legal action. Invasion of privacy statistics from 2018 show that as many as 43% of US citizens were very concerned about the possible intrusion of privacy on the web.

Sources