Adults providing increasing amounts of personal information, study finds

October 6, 2014 Arctic Wolf Networks

Adults Providing Increasing Amounts of Personal Information, Study Finds

In late September, artist Risa Puno conducted a casual social experiment at a Brooklyn arts festival to see how easily passersby would provide personal data. The concept was simple: Give Puno a piece of personal information in exchange for a cookie. While some participants only provided names and addresses, other voluntarily handed over driver’s license information and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers. Puno said that she was surprised at how freely participants provided the sort of information used for security questions, including birthplaces and mothers’ maiden names.

“They didn’t recognize them as security questions, or they didn’t care, but that’s how people ‘hack’ into celebrity iClouds, by guessing their security questions,” said Puno in an interview with ProPublica.

Alessandro Acquisti, a privacy expert at Carnegie Mellon told ProPublica that participants may have felt more comfortable offering personal details because it was part of a performance art piece and therefore a low-risk situation. However, new research into consumer practices has discovered that, as long as the agreement is transparent and mutually beneficial, the majority of young adults have no problem sharing personal information with companies.

Growing number of adults willingly provide personal data
A survey of more than 2,000 U.K. citizens conducted by OnePoll found that 59 percent of adults willingly register for websites using their social media accounts as login information, allowing companies to access a portion of the data on their profiles. That number grew to 84 percent among respondents aged 18 to 34. According to the study, many consumers prefer using social profiles to log in to websites because it saves time in comparison to long-form registration options.

In a piece for ITProPortal, contributor Barclay Ballard noted that as enterprises increasingly utilize big data to gain insights into customers, the option of social media logins will continue to grow. Many consumers don’t realize that offering companies access to the personal information on their social media profiles puts them at risk if that business is hit with a data breach, leaving them to blame the company for a lack of protection of their sensitive data. The rise in personal data being offered also puts businesses themselves at risk, as stolen employee information can be used to hack into enterprise systems to obtain even more credentials.

One way to mitigate the risks associated with storing the personal data of customers is to employ a security information and event management solution. SIEM services provide enterprises with around the clock monitoring of their networks in order to identify any suspicious or anomalous behavior. Event activity is then analyzed and provided to companies in order to create more robust cybersecurity defense procedures. With a SIEM solution in place, businesses can rest easy knowing that their customers’ information is protected and the company’s reputation will remain intact.

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