Research across eleven markets shows that smartphone owners would rather expose their banking details than nude pictures of themselves. When asked which they would rather was revealed, people in the US and the UK were most likely to choose the nude pictures; people in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina more balanced between the two. The report by Avast Software explores concepts of security and privacy and the amount of personal data that people keep on their mobile devices.

This private data is most likely to be in text messages than in apps

For every country in the survey, the data they are most concerned about is not hidden in apps or photos, but in text messages. This reflects the fact that the mobile phone has now, for most people, become the primary communications device. And text messages (on increasingly messaging apps in some markets) are the main way of sharing everything from addresses to personal details, comments and thoughts.

Messaging apps are of increasing importance

As well as being increasingly used, the privacy of content in messaging apps in an increasing concern. WhatsApp is the app most likely to be protected in all markets – people locking access to the app or it being the app they are most worried about people accessing. In markets where messaging apps are a more significant part of the communications mix, such as Mexico or some Asian markets, people are even more concerned about people accessing these apps than they are text messages.

People share a fear of data on their phones being compromised, the French by their mothers

Overall respondents globally share a concern about the data they have on their mobile phones being accessed by other people – with Brazilians most concerned (91%) and Czechs the least concerned (still at 68%). And when asked who they are fearful of, in most countries people name cybercriminals; although in France almost 60% of respondents said they were most fearful of their mothers getting access to what is on their phone.

Finally – people are more worried about their financial data being leaked than naked selfies

Obviously a question to attract headlines, but it is interesting to compare attitudes to banking details being leaked as opposed to naked selfies. In all markets, respondents would feel more comfortable the naked selfie being leaked – in some countries markedly so. This perhaps talks to the fact that our own concepts of privacy and risk as changing as the technology and what we communicate where changes. Banking details, arguably, are a containable leak – details can be changed, cards stopped. Once a naked selfie is on the internet, however, it is there forever.

As the technology we use and the data we share and store on devices changes and develops, our concepts of privacy (and the relative importance of these data) will also change. As we’re seeing with other technology changes, consumer behaviour often needs to adapt to the new technology we are using.

Matt Rhodes

About Matt Rhodes

Head of Digital Strategy for work. Marathon runner and charity trustee for fun.

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