| Share


Study Reveals Adults Are Sharing Intimate and Private Details via Unsecured Digital Devices, Leaving Them Vulnerable to Social Scandals

Sydney Australia – 4 February, 2014 – Today, McAfee released the findings from their 2014 Love, Relationships and Technology survey. The company examined how Australians are sharing personal content such as sexts, naked photos, suggestive video and phone passcodes on their mobile devices and are potentially leaving themselves open to cyber-stalking and the exposure of private content leaking online.

According to the research, nearly half of Australian men and over a third of women have received intimate messages, sexts and photos from someone else, and 38 per cent of Australians have sent this kind of information to someone (again higher among men).

The content often stays on the senders or recipients’ phone, and with 43 per cent of Australians in a relationship sharing passwords with their partners, there is a risk that potentially scandalous images or texts could be seen more widely than intended. In fact, 13 per cent of Australians have had personal content leaked online without their permission.

“In this age of digital connectivity, people share content from their personal lives with friends, colleagues and strangers, often without stopping to think about whether the recipients can be trusted. They run the risk of their private and intimate data leaking online, possibly jeopardising their identity and reputation,” says Sean Duca, APAC CTO for McAfee. 

McAfee advises Australians not to share passwords or passcodes for mobile devices with others, to help keep their content secure. Mobile users are also encouraged to not use weak passwords that can be easily guessed, such as birthdays, numbers in a row, or repeating numbers for their devices. Rather, six-digit passcodes and words translated into numbers using your mobile keypad provide stronger protection and should be used.

“We’ve seen time and time again from our own research and other* research that people are not using strong enough passwords to protect themselves from identify theft, hacking and invasions of their privacy. Our message to those with intimate images, video or other content on their mobile device: if you have a weak password, or no password at all, that content is not safe,” says Duca.

Additional stats from the Love, Relationships and Technology research:

Too much information (TMI) or for your eyes only?

Of those who have sent texts, sexts and photos, 71 per cent sent it to their significant other, 38 per cent to an occasional hook-up, 22 per cent to a significant ex, 22 per cent to a complete stranger and 10 per cent to a work colleague. 14 per cent have filmed sexual video content on their mobile device.

Although sharing intimate information is rife, 98 per cent of respondents say they trust the recipient not to post racy photos, texts or emails online.

Keep content secret

The McAfee survey also shows that 30 per cent of Australian mobile device users do not password protect their smartphone, and 35 per cent have no password protection on their tablet. More than a third use the same password across multiple devices, with men 13 per cent more likely to do this than women.

Of Australians with a previous significant relationship who shared passwords while they were dating, 28 per cent have not changed their password since the breakup.

Private accounts no barrier

Those in relationships often access their partners’ personal information, with 40 per cent admitting to logging into their spouse or significant other’s Facebook account, 13 per cent Instagram and 9 per cent to the dating hook-up app, Tinder.

A quarter (23 per cent) of Australians have even taken their spouse or significant others’ mobile to see what messages are on there – women do this twice as often as men.

Australians v US

Australians are more likely than Americans to send racy content to a perfect stranger – 10 per cent of Americans, 20 per cent of Australians.

One third of Americans check content on their partners’ mobile device, and a quarter of Australians take their partners’ device to see what’s on there.

When it comes to celebrity scandals, Australians are more aware of Scarlett Johansson’s online scandal, and Americans are most aware of Kim Kardashian’s naked scandal.



About the study

The Futures Company conducted a total of 500 online interviews in Australia among adults ages 18-54. Interviews among respondents were split evenly by age and gender. The interviews were conducted from 3 December through to 16 December, 2013. 

*SplashData, Annual worst passwords list, 2013

About McAfee
McAfee, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), empowers businesses, the public sector, and home users to safely experience the benefits of the Internet. McAfee delivers proactive and proven security solutions and services for systems, networks, and mobile devices around the world. With its Security Connected strategy, innovative approach to hardware-enhanced security, and unique Global Threat Intelligence network, McAfee is relentlessly focused on keeping its customers safe. More information is available at www.mcafee.com.


Note: McAfee is a trademark or registered trademark of McAfee, Inc. in the United States and other countries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.