What's your online persona worth?
Posted by Vicente Silveira, Sr. Product Manager for VIP Fraud Detection Service
If you live in the UK, the answer would be a little over twenty thousand dollars (at current exchange rates) for the average adult internet user, a nice bounty for phishers, bot herders, malware coders and other cyber-criminals to go after.
This is based on highlights of a recent YouGov survey that estimates European Internet users are risking up to 1.6 trillion dollars by sharing personal and financial data with sites that are not adequately protected, with UK Internet users responding for a 731 billion chunk of the total amount.
What the research also suggests is that the ubiquity of social networking and other data sharing sites has increased dramatically the quantity and sensitivity of the information available on the web, with users volunteering more and more details in order to complete their profiles, make more friends or establish new connections. Many consumers are giving away their date of birth (75%), their home address (70%) and even their mother's maiden name (68%). People sharing such data may not realize that it is not too hard to aggregate all this information and use it to compromise internet banking accounts and other sensitive online applications.
That is why consumer education plays a key role in making sure users understand what is appropriate to share and where to share it. And believe it or not some of it is working, as the YouGov research shows that consumers are becoming more aware of security symbols such as the padlock (69 percent) or a security mark like the VeriSignÂ® Secured Seal (41 percent).
Moving forward, tools such as Microsoft IE7 and EV certificates will ease the learning curve, but at the end of the day good old common sense continues to be key when deciding whether to share sensitive data online.