A whopping 40% of APAC consumers have revealed that their personal information has been accessed by someone who did not have their consent, in Kaspersky's latest survey.
The study, which was conducted between January and February this year and quizzed 15,000 consumers across the APAC region also found that more than 50% harbour equal concern over the safety of both their physical and virtual lives.
Illegal takeover of devices, confidential data being stolen and private data being divulged publicly are also cited by 39%, 31% and 20% of respondents, respectively, as methods of breach experienced by consumers.
The same report also found out that more than 20% of respondents in APAC are willing to sacrifice their privacy to gain a product or a service for free.
A further 20% admitted they need some help to learn how to protect their privacy online.
“Our data on hand suggests a complex online behaviour within our region,” says Kaspersky managing director for APAC Stephan Neumeier.
“It is welcome progress that the majority of consumers are now concerned about their online privacy but their virtual habits and security know-how must undergo an overhaul.
“With the current remote working situation in the majority of the countries in APAC, digital privacy should be a concern for both personal users and enterprises.
When asked about the consequences they encountered after a privacy breach, several respondents detailed negative outcomes concerning their digital and even physical lives.
According to the study, 39% were disturbed by spam and adverts, some (33%) were stressed, and others (24%) claimed their personal reputation was damaged.
In equal percentage, 19% of users offended someone, lost money, and were bullied. Blackmail was also experienced by 16% of the users in APAC, some careers were damaged (14%) and romantic bonds ended or underwent a divorce (10%).
“Our corporate networks have reached the comfort of our homes, in turn increasing cybercriminals' surface of attack,” says Neumeier.
“It's definitely high time to improve cyber hygiene for both our personal and professional reputation and peace of mind.”
Neumeier adds that users need to be extra cautious in 2020, as cyber attackers tend to be opportunistic about events that capture the attention of swathes of the population – like COVID-19.
“Cybercriminals tend to follow chaos. Whenever there is a major trend or a crisis, they will use it as a perfect opportunity to exploit the heightened human emotions which make users more vulnerable,” explains Neumeier.
“To protect yourself during this critical time, it is important to be careful about the personal particulars you share online and to understand how these data will be used.
“Revisit your privacy settings and tweak them accordingly. The internet is a place of opportunities and anyone can benefit from it as long as we know how to intelligently manage our data and our online habits.