Woburn, MA – February 21, 2018 – According to a new report from Kaspersky Lab, 70 percent of people in relationships share passwords, PINs or fingerprints to access their significant other’s personal devices. While exchanging digital details may seem romantic for some couples, this practice can result in security and privacy risks for both partners if a breakup is to occur.
In modern relationships, it is often natural for couples to store private memories on each other’s devices or share access to online accounts. Kaspersky Lab found that a quarter of people in relationships (26%) store intimate data on their partner’s device, including intimate messages to or from their partner (14%), intimate photos (12%) or intimate videos of them and their partner (11%). Furthermore, 11 percent of people share access to financial data with their significant other, and an additional 11 percent share work-related data.
If a relationship ends, however, disgruntled ex-partners may be tempted to take advantage of the digital access their former significant other once shared. Kaspersky Lab found that 12 percent of people who have experienced a breakup have shared or wanted to share an ex-partner’s private information publicly as an act of revenge, and the same proportion (12%) have damaged or wanted to damage an ex’s device. Additionally, one-in-ten people surveyed (10%) confessed to having spent an ex-partner’s money online.
Even if the relationship does not end on bad terms, sharing device or account passwords with a partner can still create privacy issues in the case of a breakup. One-in-five people (21%) admitted to having spied on an ex-partner through an online account to which they had access, such as social media or email.
The Kaspersky Lab study noted some interesting differences between the sexes in their reaction to breakups. Seventeen percent of men have shared their ex-partner’s private information publicly as a form of revenge, versus just seven percent of women. Women are more willing than men to delete all of an ex-partner’s information from their device (55% vs. 49%), and delete all partner photos or videos following a breakup (56% vs. 48%). However, women are more prone to online snooping, with 33 percent of women admitting to spying on their ex-partner via social networks compared to 28 percent of men.
“The digital world offers a great way for couples to connect, but also presents significant privacy risks if partners decide to go their separate ways,” said Andrei Mochola, head of consumer business at Kaspersky Lab. “With a sizeable proportion of individuals seemingly willing to abuse the intimate data they have on their ex-partners, individuals should always make sure they are careful when sharing anything intimate and know exactly where it is being stored.”
By taking steps to secure personal data and devices, both while in a relationship and following a breakup, people can be sure that their pursuit of love does not put their security at risk. If a relationship is to end, consumers should change passwords to accounts that their ex-partner could access, using a solution like Kaspersky Password Manager to help generate strong passwords and store them securely. Furthermore, the File Shredder feature in Kaspersky Total Security can permanently delete files that you don’t want anyone else to see, while intimate messages on your Android device can be hidden using the Privacy Protection feature.
To read the full report, “Connected Love: Privacy in Relationships and the Boundaries of Personal Space,” please visit our blog.