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Most Australians still indifferent about sharing private information online after data breaches

Even after recent incidents like the Optus and Medibank data breaches, it seems most Australians aren’t too worried about corporations collecting their personal information.

When it comes to sharing information like age, gender, relationship status, and even address, around 60 per cent of Australians remain indifferent, a Money.com.au survey has found.

However, concerns are raised when users are asked for further financial information. At least 68 per cent of Australians said they’d hesitate to give tax file numbers, passport details, or other banking information.

“I am surprised by the level of comfort that the majority of survey respondents have around sharing their private information,” said Helen Baker, licensed financial adviser and Money.com.au spokesperson.

“Considering recent major customer data breaches, I think we need to start questioning why some service providers request personal information that is not relevant to their provision of the service. It may feel ‘safe’ to share personal details such as date of birth, gender and home address, but a company holding a combination of these can leave individuals vulnerable in a data breach.

“Malicious hackers, if armed with a few personal details about an individual, can steal their identity, sell their identity, create fake accounts or passports or incur debt on behalf of the individual.”

As part of the survey, respondents were asked how concerned they are, if at all, about sharing personal details when signing up for services like utility plans, accommodations, or other subscriptions. The details that flagged the highest concerns among users were bank transaction history (68 per cent), bank account details (65 per cent), tax file number (58 per cent), photo of their face (58 per cent) and passport details (57 per cent).

Interestingly, younger respondents were more likely to provide fake details when signing up to services. A third of under-30s say they have faked at least one personal detail online. The most common fake detail was date of birth, followed by home address, and name.

A higher proportion of men, too, tend to falsify personal details (31 per cent) compared to their female counterparts (25 per cent).

Overall, the survey found just 40 per cent of Australians, on average, are worried about corporations collecting their personal information.

According to Ms Baker, this makes online safeguards even more important for Australians to protect their information and accounts.

“For instance, using a different password for every account and updating those passwords regularly, while setting up two-factor authentication, can provide an additional layer of protection,” she added.

“In light of recent data breaches that have made headlines, I believe large corporations will also become more diligent by updating their security systems regularly to prevent future data breaches.”

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ALSO READ: $50m fines for Australian businesses subject to major data breaches

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Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea Laxmi Nath

Rhea L Nath is a Sydney-based writer and editor. In 2022, she was named Young Journalist of the Year at the NSW Premier's Multicultural Communications Awards.

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