Protecting our privacy and staying secure in the physical world is second nature. We lock our doors to keep out unwanted guests. We shut our blinds to thwart nosy neighbors. And we tuck away our wallets to foil thieves. It’s habit. And it’s common sense.
Yet online — where we shop, flirt, gossip and type unseemly questions into search engines — we rarely apply the same vigilance. We recycle passwords, we run outdated software and we volunteer personal information for a free coupon.
If this same carelessness carried over to the physical world, our wallets might be a lot lighter. And our neighbors might know a lot more about us than we want.
Why is that? And what can we do to fix it?
Mozilla recently set out to learn more. We want to know how people feel about issues like privacy, encryption, tracking and security online. And we want to act on our learnings, so we can help build a healthier Internet.
Last month, some 30,000 Mozilla community members responded to our privacy survey. Here’s what we learned from those respondents — everyday Internet users from countries like France, Australia, Germany, Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.
Most people feel they don’t know how to stay safe online.
The details: Over 90% of survey participants said they don’t know much about protecting themselves online. Only 8.9% are basically Mr. Robot.
Interesting tidbit: Respondents from France are the least confident about their knowledge of how to protect themselves online, with 1 in 5 people admitting that they know nothing and need help.
What to do: Keep your software current. Updating apps and devices regularly takes advantage of developers’ latest security enhancements. Here’s a great list to get you started.
Overwhelmingly, people don’t feel like they have control over their personal information online.
The details: Only 1 in 10 survey participants feel like they have total control over their personal information online. Nearly a third of respondents feel like they have no control at all over their personal information online.
Interesting tidbit: People who are not familiar with encryption are more likely to feel like they have no control over their online privacy, according to responses.
What to do: When you’re surfing the web on your devices, try Private Browsing on Firefox — it won’t save your browsing history, searches or cookies.
Most people are pretty fuzzy on how encryption works.
The details: Nearly 1 in 3 survey participants said they know either very little, or nothing at all, about encryption.
Interesting tidbit: German respondents were most familiar with encryption, with 85% of respondents having at least some knowledge about it.
What to do: Mozilla’s “Meet Encryption” video explains encryption in simple language.
People are most scared of hackers and trackers.
The details: 8 out of every 10 respondents fear being hacked by a stranger. 61% of respondents are concerned about being tracked by advertisers.
Interesting tidbit: People with strong knowledge of online privacy protection are most concerned about being tracked by state actors such as governments and law enforcement, according to responses.
What to do: Thwart hackers by using random passwords, plus different passwords for every site. For more tips on thwarting hackers, follow these security best practices penned by Firefox Security Lead Richard Barnes.
People are bringing more and more connected devices into their homes.
The details: 60% of respondents own more than four devices connected to the Internet.
Interesting tidbit: The more devices respondents own, the less control they feel they have over their privacy, according to responses.
What to do: Know your settings. You can manage your profile and preferences for Google, Yahoo! and Facebook ads, and even edit data that’s been collected about you by Acxiom, one of the world’s largest marketing data brokers.
Privacy advice should be simple, straightforward and come from trustworthy people.
The details: Only 1 in 3 survey participants are willing to attend a training about secure tools.
Interesting tidbit: Respondents have the highest level of trust in non-profits when it comes to learning about online privacy protection. Also, people trust their peers (friends, family and co-workers) for privacy advice more than they trust media or the government, according to responses.