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Security of Risqué Photos Overestimated


Isn't it amazing how quickly innocent text messages and teasing photos can escalate into the damning "he said, she said" of ruined careers and reputations? Despite public awareness of data leaks and high- profile celebrity photo scandals, Americans continue to take risks by sharing personal information and intimate photos with their partners and friends. Yet research shows that 95 percent of Americans believe their data and revealing photos are safe in the hands of their partners.

 A new study by McAfee, an online security company, has found that 13 percent of adults have had their personal content leaked to others without their permission. Additionally, one in 10 ex-partners have threatened that they would expose risqué photos of their ex online. According to the study, these threats have been carried out nearly 60 percent of the time.

Nearly two-thirds of smartphone owners have personal and intimate information on their mobile devices, such as bank account information, passwords, credit-card numbers and revealing photos, yet only 40 percent have password protection on their devices, McAfee said. This leaves a gap in personal data protection, which results in exposure.

Among those partner actions leading to the exposure of personal data were lying (45 percent), cheating (41 percent), personal breakup (27 percent), calling off a wedding (14 percent) and posting a picture with someone else (13 percent).

Cyberstalking continues to imperil our privacy, the study found. When armed with their partner’s passwords, a majority of Americans snoop and check out their partners’ emails, bank accounts and social media pages. More than 56 percent of people surveyed have admitted to checking their significant others’ social media pages and bank accounts and nearly half (49 percent) log in to scan their partners’ emails.

Males snoop on their partners more than their female counterparts. Almost half (46 percent) of men admitted to tracking their partner, ex-partner or partner’s ex on Facebook or Twitter, compared with 37 percent of females.

"We’re all aware of the cases involving celebrities, but you don’t have to be a celebrity to have your personal information exposed," said Michelle Dennedy, an online security expert for McAfee. "Sharing passwords with your partner might seem harmless, but it often puts you at risk for a 'revenge of the ex' situation, landing private information in a public platform for all to see. Everyone needs to be aware of the risks and take the steps to make sure their personal data is safe and secure."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.

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