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LOVERS BEWARE: Intimate Data and Images Shared With Your Partner May Be Exposed Online

Almost 50% of Australians Share Passwords with their Partners while 67% Share Bank Account Details

SYDNEY, Australia. February 5th, 2013 – McAfee today released Australian findings from the company’s 2013 Love, Relationships, and Technology survey which examines the pitfalls of sharing personal data in relationships and discloses how breakups can lead to privacy leaks online.  The study highlights the need for consumers to take steps to protect themselves from cyber-stalking and exposure of private information.

The research shows around 49% of Australian smartphone owners have personal and intimate information on their mobile devices, such as bank account information, passwords, credit cards and revealing photos. Meanwhile, 51% of Australians have used their smartphone to send personal or intimate text messages, emails or photos in the past.
“Sharing personal and intimate information may seem like harmless fun to many Australians but it’s important they realise that once a private message or photo is out of their hands, they can’t control where it goes or who sees it,” said Sean Duca, Enterprise Solutions Architect at McAfee Asia Pacific. “It’s clear that many people feel comfortable sharing private information and passwords with their partners, but they also need to consider the risks involved in doing so, and that if those relationships end, their information can end up in the wrong hands.”

Top findings from the survey include:

Relationships, Break Ups and Personal Data
Despite public awareness of data leaks and high profile celebrity photo scandals, Australians continue to take risks by sharing personal information and intimate photos with their partners and friends. The research shows that 96% of Aussies believe their data and revealing photos are safe in the hands of their partners.

However, McAfee has found that 10% of adults have had their personal content leaked to others without their permission. Additionally, 1 in 20 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 half the time (46%).

Of those surveyed these were the partner actions that lead to the exposure of personal data:
1.       Broke up with me (27%)
2.       Cheated (20%)
3.       Lied (20%)
4.       Called off wedding (13%)
5.       Posted picture with someone else (13%)
6.       Other (13%)
About 1/5 of the population has regretted sending such intimate content after a break up and 20% of people have even asked their ex-partner to delete all personal content.

Sending Personal Content
Despite the risks, 34% of Aussies still plan to send sexy or romantic photos to their partners via email, text and social media on Valentine’s Day.

Aussies More Private than Other Nations

While many Australians are happy to share their personal information with their partners, the numbers are much greater in some other countries. While almost half of Australian’s have personal or intimate content on their smartphone, a staggering 80% of French and Mexicans are doing the same. Aussie’s are also much less likely to send the information via text or email to a friend (51%) than those in the US (60%), Germany (75%) or India (86%).

Cyber Stalking
When armed with their partner’s passwords, some Australians can’t help but snoop and check out their partners’ emails, bank accounts and social media pages. Almost half (47%) of people surveyed have admitted to checking their significant others’ emails, while 57% regularly or sometimes check their bank accounts. Meanwhile, almost half (47%) log in to partner’s social media pages. The survey also revealed that slightly more people (31%) track their ex-partner on Facebook than their current partner (21%).

Private Data
It’s not just revealing photos that people need to worry about. 10% of adults have had their personal content leaked to others without their permission. Sharing information at every turn increases the likelihood of leaked data and identity theft. Bank account numbers (67%), health insurance details (54%), Medicare numbers (67%), email accounts (58%), and passwords (48%) have all been shared with relationship partners.
When personal data is leaked, about 17% of people hired an attorney and took legal actions to recover their information and have embarrassing photos removed from websites.  Almost a quarter of those affected have broken into the emails of those who leaked the data to find proof and recover what was lost.  The most popular form of fighting back was to confront the individual in person (56%) or online (30%).
Unprotected Devices
Nearly 40% of Australians leave their phone open and unprotected without a password, letting anyone who picks up the device access all their private content. The same number of Australians never back up or save the content on their smartphones and about a quarter rarely or never delete any personal or intimate text messages emails and photos.

To learn more, please visit:
Note: The statistics used in the content linked below are from the US research. For a fact sheet featuring Australian results, please contact Spectrum Communications

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About the Study
MSI International conducted a total of 527 online interviews in Australia, among adults ages 18-74. Interviews among respondents were split evenly by age and gender, and achieved geographic distribution according to the Australian census. The interviews were conducted from December 14 through December 30, 2012.


Media Contact:
Sabine Leroy
Spectrum Communications
02 9469 5700