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The dangers of exposed personal data and ways to avoid them

A new survey by the leading virtual private network provider NordVPN revealed that Brits are mostly worried about their financial transactions (77%), stored personal pictures (36%), and files as well as links shared with others (31%) being made public.

Besides that, almost a third (28%) are afraid of exposed online conversations as well as browsing history (27%). 

“Personal data is important information that no one should access without permission. It encompasses details about a person’s religious beliefs, political opinions, genetic or health data, racial or ethnic origin, biometric data, etc. The leakage of such info might cause someone financial or reputational damage or be used for malicious purposes if it falls into the wrong hands,” comments Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN

Who can abuse your personal information?

Criminals might use personal data for various reasons, including bullying or harassing their victims. For example, they can snatch a private image of you and threaten to publish it. They might also manipulate the context of your photo, thereby harming your reputation. 

Cyberstalkers might even use personal info to follow or even physically assault someone, while others may exploit it for purely pragmatic reasons, such as snatching your money, stealing your online identity, or spamming.

“It’s not only cybercriminals who are interested in your data. Social media networks, ISPs, third-party organizations, websites, and governmental institutions regularly collect users’ personal data and browsing habits for marketing purposes. They frequently use cookies to track your digital footprints,” Daniel Markuson adds.

How to protect your sensitive data from being exposed online

Daniel Markuson recommends the following steps to make yourself safer online:

  • Use strong passwords. You can use our NordPass tool to generate and store complex passwords;
  • Encrypt your files. Even if someone got hold of your files, they would not be able to access them;
  • Use common sense when surfing online. Do not click on suspicious links or ads, and avoid opening suspicious messages or dodgy websites. Also, do not give out personal data to persons you do not know;
  • Keep your social accounts private. Make your social media pages visible only to people you know and trust;
  • Do not share your identifiable personal information. Keep details like your phone number or home address out of the public eye;
  • Use a VPN service. It will encrypt your traffic, and no one will be able to see what you do online. Using a VPN is essential if you use public Wi-Fi or share sensitive files over the internet.

Methodology: The survey was conducted by the NordVPN Research department for the period from March 29 to April 3, 2021. The survey’s target group was residents of the UK over the age of 18, and the sample was taken from national internet users. Quotas were placed on age, gender, and place of residence.


ABOUT NORDVPN

NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider used by over 14 million internet users worldwide. NordVPN provides double VPN encryption, malware blocking, and Onion Over VPN. The product is very user-friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide, and is P2P-friendly. One of the key features of NordVPN is the zero-log policy. For more information: nordvpn.com.

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