network security researchThe growing sophistication, as well as frequency, of cyber attacks raises online privacy threat levels, an issue that Americans are increasingly concerned about. According to a survey of 2,100 American adults regarding online privacy developed by WP Engine and carried out by Harris Interactive, nearly every American (99 percent) said they care about online privacy – 71 percent saying that they “care deeply” about it.

Online Privacy Concerns
Surveying the variety of online platforms where privacy of personal information is of greatest concern, the “WP Engine Online Privacy Study” shows that two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents are most concerned about the privacy of personal data on social media networks, such as Facebook. At 56 percent, online privacy concerns associated with email ranked second.

Ranking third, 52 percent of survey respondents said the privacy of personal information crossing Web browsers concerned them most. Search engines (45 percent) and online privacy across social photo sharing platforms, such as Instagram, (35 percent) ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.

Thirty percent of respondents said they’re most concerned about online privacy of mobile apps. Twenty-seven percent said privacy of online dating apps concerned them most, while 23 percent ranked personal privacy of both instant messaging apps and micro-blogging sites of greatest concern.

Rounding out survey coverage of online platforms, 22 percent said online privacy of disappearing photo sharing services, such as Snapchat, concerned them most. For 18 percent, online privacy of smart wearable devices was of greatest concern, while for 17 percent it was that for online games.

Examining personal online concerns across application areas, WP Engine found that respondents were most concerned about online privacy when accessing bank accounts or financial data. More than half (57 percent) said that online shopping posed the next greatest threat to online privacy.

Other online activities that invoked privacy concerns included:

  • When referencing photos of themselves online (27%);
  • When browsing pornography (16%);
  • When browsing social media while at work (14%);
  • Checking out an ex on social media (10%);
  • While looking up new jobs at work (9%)

“With so much personal detail accessible by each other online, it’s more important than ever to be talking about what information is truly respected as private,” Heather Brunner, WP Engine CEO, was quoted in a press release.

“99% of Americans say they care about online privacy, so it’s understandably concerning when you consider the sensitivity around some of their data being shared—from bank records to relationship status—in some cases across public platforms.”

Who Owns the Data?
Delving into the issue of who rightfully owns, or should own, all this personal data, WP Engine found that 93 percent of survey respondents agreed “they should have full rights to some, if not all, of their information.”

Drilling down for more detail, 19 percent said they should fully own rights to family pictures; 17 percent online browsing history; 14 percent shopping history, 14 percent baby pictures of their child; 12 percent baby pictures of themselves. Naked selfies (12 percent) and personal artwork (11 percent) also made the list of online content respondents said they should have rights over.