As kids, we were taught to share, but sometimes technology allows us to share just a little too much. And, when it comes to relationships, it's perhaps too easy to post a personal picture on social media, or fire off a racy text. So, you before you click "send", you may want to ask yourself if you know how to keep your personal, intimate information private.
We know that technology has already become the silent third-party in many people's love lives. The latest results from McAfee's second annual Love, Relationships and Technology survey1 revealed that 63% of 18 to 24-year-olds have received intimate text messages, emails and photos from someone. The same survey found that 77% of people aged 18 to 54 admitted to sending racy content to their significant other, while 1 in 10 have sent similar content to total strangers.
While this may not be surprising considering how integrated technology has become with every part of our lives, it does raise questions about privacy.
After all, many people fail to lock their devices with a passcode or password, despite security warnings. And, without these measures in place, your intimate information could be accessed by almost anyone if your device is stolen or left unattended.
Furthermore, it is still quite common for people to reuse passwords frequently, since they're difficult to remember. However, this means that if your password is hacked, or if you share your password with someone, they could gain access to all of your information.
Not only would it be embarrassing to have your personal information revealed to the world, but it could also be shared online, potentially affecting your reputation.
This is concerning, especially since it appears that many people are already taking data risks. For example, a whopping 96% of the adults we surveyed said that they trusted the recipient of their sexual images and videos not to post the content online.
And while it is perhaps no surprise that many of us trust our significant others, what happens when there's a breakup? The survey found that around half of adults shared passwords, mobile content, and email accounts with their partners and only a third of the respondents asked their significant other to delete sexual images or video content after ending the relationship.
In the age of social media, the thought of having your content in the hands of someone who may not like you very much anymore should raise some red flags. Your former-fan might be tempted share your photos or texts with their own spin, leading to bad buzz about you online.
Already, 14% of adults admit to tracking their significant other on his or her social media accounts, and 20% said that they log into their significant others' Facebook accounts on a monthly basis by using their passwords.
So, as much as you want to trust the people in your lives, especially romantic partners, it may be time to stop playing fast and loose with your personal information. Here are a few tips to keep your personal life private:
Keep your passwords private—Never share your passwords with anyone, even family members or significant others. If it's an emergency and you have to share a password, change it immediately afterward.
Lock your devices—Always use a password or passcode to lock your devices and keep the code to yourself. This way, if your device is lost or stolen no one will be able to access your private content.
Learn to love the delete button—As tempting as it is to keep personal mementos such as intimate messages and photos on your device, it's best to delete the content as soon as possible. This way, you don't ever have to worry about the content being shared and possibly hurting your reputation.
Care, but don't share—Remember that once you share your private information with anyone, including loved ones, it is out of your control.
Secure your devices—In addition to passwords and passcodes to lock your devices, consider using security software to help protect your information from malware and hackers. A product such as McAfee LiveSafe can help you protect all of your devices – including PCs, Macs, smartphones, and tablets – from one simple console.
Remember that when it comes to sharing, less is more. It's a simple way to keep your intimate moments from developing into bad buzz. Learn more about how you can keep your private life private here.
1 The Futures Company & Intel Security, December 2013