McAfee released the findings from its 2014 Love, Relationships & Technology survey, and found that almost half of all adults send or receive sexually suggestive content, and 38% have shared passwords.
For a second year in a row, the security experts examined how nearly 9,000 consumers worldwide are sharing and storing intimate data on their mobile devices, especially with current or former significant others.
The study highlights how sharing personal content such as suggestive texts, naked photos, suggestive video and passcodes on these devices can potentially lead to cyber-stalking and the exposure of private content leaking online.
While 96% of respondents use their mobile device to take photos, 49% send or receive intimate content including video, photos, emails and messages. A quarter of all adults surveyed do not secure their smartphone with a password or passcode. In addition, 38% have shared passwords with a significant other and 41% use the same password across multiple devices, increasing the likelihood of cyber stalking, identity theft and leakage of intimate data.
“With all the stories we’ve heard about intimate photos being leaked, it’s hard to believe people are still sharing their passwords,” said Gary Davis, Vice President of McAfee consumer business. “Ultimately, they’re increasing the risks of these photos becoming public and possibly jeopardising their identity and reputation. Consumers must take precautions and use mobile security to ensure that what should be private stays private.”
Andy Jones, relationship expert and a former dating columnist said of the findings: “We live in a risqué age, where celebrity sexting scandals are two a penny and snaps of private body parts go viral overnight. Behind every media leak, from Prince Harry’s infamous night in Vegas to Scarlett Johansson naked selfies, is a smartphone. We’re a generation living with digital baggage, whether you’re the victim of a hack or a vengeful lover, pictures leaked online last a lifetime. Digital daters need to get wise to e-etiquette and start protecting their online reputations. As a rule of thumb, if it’s something you wouldn’t want your family to see you probably shouldn’t share it!”
McAfee advises consumers not to share passwords or codes for mobile devices with others to help keep their content secure. Mobile users should avoid using weak passwords that can be easily determined such as birthdays, numbers in a row or repeat numbers for their devices. Rather, six-digit passcodes and words translated into numbers using your mobile keypad are stronger and should be utilised.
Additional findings from the survey include:
For Your Eyes Only
Half of all adults currently have sexts or sexually explicit text messages they’ve sent to someone stored on their phone, and nearly the same amount (49%) have sexts saved on their smartphone. Only 28% of the people who sent or received sexts or intimate text messages, emails or photos delete the message from their device as soon as they have sent/received it, increasing the likelihood of private data being exposed. Of those who have sent intimate or racy content, 73% have sent this content to their significant other, while more than 1 in 10 (16%) individuals have sent similar content to a total stranger.
The Case of the Ex
Ninety-five percent of all adults trust their significant other not to share intimate content or otherwise private information they have sent. When relationships have ended, only 37% of those that shared private content have asked their partner to delete the information.
In addition to sharing passwords, 48% share mobile phone content and 47% share email accounts. Yet, a quarter (28%) of respondents has taken their partner’s mobile device to see other content stored on it, including messages and photos. Nearly a third (30%) of all people are likely to log into their significant other’s Facebook account at least once a month, while only 28% of those surveyed admitted to stalking their significant other’s ex on social media.
Public Display of Online Affection
With 92% of respondents on a social media platform (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), more than a quarter (26%) will send sexy or romantic images via email, text, or social media pages on Valentine’s Day. Twenty-eight percent of all adults will write posts or messages to others via social network accounts and a quarter will post Valentine’s photos to social networks.