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Data security studies have revealed that there are literally hundreds of popular websites and mobile applications leaking personal information. Previous studies suggested even the Royal Mail is one such business leaking data, which goes to show the extent of the problem.

Many of the websites and apps researchers say are guilty of leaking data have an international reach, meaning people from all over the world could be victims to these data leaks. Studies so far have been focused on personally identifiable information (PII), which is data that can be directly linked to the owner.

This is worrying.

The most common information leaked is emails and usernames, with previous reports showing around 90% are leaked. Passwords come at a close second with a statistic of 86%. Thankfully, only three percent of all leaks included banking information.

Reportedly, around 80% of 50 adult content websites leaked some form of PII. If a hacker is able to utilise this information, this could potentially lead to blackmail attacks.

Perhaps surprisingly, social media that uses shared personal information as its very basis, and accounts for 30% of total data use, only had data leaks around the 2% mark. The reason as to why this number is so low could be because users understand the public nature of social media sites and are more cautious in the first place.

Reports have previously suggested that data leaks were not specific to certain regions either, and that it was pretty much on an international scale.

This makes us wonder if it’s a problem so large and common that no one seems to be able to prevent or stop data leaks, or just that we’re not doing enough in the first place to protect PII globally.

According to some, it’s the latter.

So many apps and mobile sites reportedly fail to utilise the most basic yet effective cybersecurity measure: encryption.

Encryption can scramble information, making it non-sensible unless you have the key to reveal its true meaning. Because of competition in the market, it’s thought that companies look to use fast developers to rush products onto the market in order to be the first available. The prioritisation of speed over security can mean that simple security measures are simply overlooked and not established properly.

Under the Data Protection Act, companies and organisations have a legal responsibility to look after the personal information held in a safe and secure way. These apps and websites have a duty to the users who trust them with their personal information. Not only do the developers and owners of the sites need to take care in setting up adequate cybersecurity measures, they need to be constantly checking to ensure there are no leaks or breaches.

IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.

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First published by Author on November 24, 2017
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