A Study Reveals That Consumers Still Don’t Fully Trust The Internet

A rather interesting study by Incogni reveals that approximately 74% of the US population feels as if online security has not improved over the past two years.

I’ll get to why I find this an interesting study in a bit; first, let’s get down to the study and the team behind it. Incogni is a cybersecurity firm that specializes in protecting users from the harmful effects that online data brokers can have on their lives. To be clearer, data brokers are individuals or groups online that collect user data through means such as third-party cookies, and then sell that data to companies or groups that may require it.

Now, the fact that someone’s out there siphoning your user data and using it as a discount sweater during flea shop season shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially if you frequent this online journal. It’s a rather commonplace, if still ridiculously shady, practice; in fact, it’s how most targeted advertisements are generated. However, the real danger comes from the customers that we’re unaware of. Everyone knows that brokers sell to advertisers, but many have also been found to sell personal user data (unknowingly or otherwise) to cyber criminals.

Now, this is much more worrying, but why is this so important? To be honest, this particular fact isn’t at all. However, what does strike my attention is just how subconsciously aware the US population is about such acts happening, despite data brokers being as private as possible with regards to such transactions. For example, 79% of the survey’s respondents, a total of 2,310 individuals, were unaware of what data brokers are and what role they play in the information trade if any. As if by either word of mouth or a general sense of mistrust, 68% of the respondents were fully aware that companies were siphoning their data, and only 24% trusted such institutions with said data (why even 24%?).

It's important to map changes over the past two years because 2020 was a significant year for online growth and awareness. What with the pandemic and all, everyone was suddenly barred inside with nothing but their online devices to utilize as both entertainment and business. With all of this in mind, it was more than important that online safety and security awareness be spread to the masses. Many data vendors selling information to cybercriminals were identified and punished; entire acts were passed by lawmakers to help with online security. However, the internet continues to feel unaware, insecure, and scared. There is more headway to be made in making online spaces feel a little safer and more welcoming.

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