6 February 2014

Sex, lies, passwords, and mobile devices

McAfee's first iteration of its Love, Relationships & Technology survey in Singapore has shown that 44% of Singaporeans send or receive intimate content including video, photos, emails and messages, but only 82% of those surveyed are securing their smartphone with a password or passcode.

Source: McAfee

The 2014 Love, Relationships & Technology survey, conducted for the second time globally, examines how individuals 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, photos in the nude, suggestive video and passcodes on these devices can potentially lead to cyber-stalking and the leaking of private content online. 

While 99% of the more than 350 Singapore respondents use their mobile device to take photos, and just 18% do not use a password or passcode with their smartphone, 42% of Singapore respondents also share their passwords with another individual. In addition to sharing passwords, 62% share mobile phone content and 59% share email accounts. 

According to the study, 38% of respondents in Singapore use the same password across multiple devices, increasing the likelihood that these mobile devices will be hacked. In the US, the numbers are higher: 27% of users don’t secure their mobile devices with a basic personal identification number (PIN) or passcode. As in Singapore, 38% have shared the PIN or passcode with our significant other.   

“It’s always a risk to share passwords with others, yet people still do. Not surprisingly then, we hear of stories where private and intimate content leaks out,” said Wahab Yusoff, Vice President, South Asia at McAfee. “People increasingly make themselves vulnerable to risks to their reputation when what is meant to be private becomes public, so it is prudent for consumers to step up their mobile security and protect themselves.” 

McAfee advises consumers not to share passwords or confidential codes for mobile devices with others to help keep their content secure. Mobile users should also 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, the company said. 

Additional findings from the survey include: 

For Your Eyes Only 
29% of 35 – 44 years olds receive suggestive content from someone, the largest percentage of all age groups. 
More men are likely to use their mobile device to send and receive similar content (58% men vs. 42% women). 
64% percent of Singaporean adults say they stored intimate content that they have received in comparison to 58% who store risqué photos, videos or messages they have sent. 
Of those who have sent intimate or racy content, 83% have sent this content to their significant other, while only 8% of individuals have sent similar content to a total stranger. 

Privacy Gender Gap 
According to the survey, more men than women protect their mobile devices (87% men vs. 76% women). 
Given the desire to protect their mobile devices and its content two-thirds of respondents are interested in purchasing biometric security-embedded capabilities (e.g. face recognition, voice recognition, fingerprint recognition, etc.) 

The Case of the Ex 
While over 90% of Singaporean adults surveyed trust their significant other with intimate content or otherwise private information they have sent, only 58% have asked their partner to delete the information when ending the relationship. 
A full 73% of respondents have taken their partner’s mobile device to see other content stored on it, including messages and photos. 
But only 6% are likely to log into their significant other’s Facebook account at least once a month
A quarter of those surveyed admitted to stalking their significant other’s ex on social media.   

Public Display of Online Affection 
With more than 90% of respondents on a social media platform (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), of those who answered they would be celebrating Valentine’s Day on social media, two-thirds of respondents plan to post messages to others or post photos. 
Of those that responded, more men than women plan to celebrate their love on social media on Valentine’s Day (44% women vs. 56% men). 

Click here to read the US results.

*MSI Research conducted a total of 354 online interviews in Singapore among respondents ages 18-54. Interviews among respondents were split evenly by age and gender. The interviews were conducted from December 30, 2013 – January 16, 2014.