Cyber security provider F-Secure has released a free new online tool that helps expose the true cost of using some of the web’s most popular free services—the abundance of data that has been collected about them by Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon Alexa, Twitter and Snapchat. F-Secure Data Discovery Portal sends users directly to the often hard-to-locate resources provided by each of these tech giants that allow users to review their data, securely and privately.
“What you do with the data collection is entirely between you and the service,” says F-Secure Chief Information Security Officer Erka Koivunen. “We don't see – and don't want to see – your settings or your data. Our only goal is to help you find out how much of your information is out there.”
More than half of adult Facebook users, 54%, adjusted how they use the site in the wake of the scandal that revealed Cambridge Analytica had collected data without users’ permission.* But the biggest social network in the world continues to grow, reporting 2.3 billion monthly users at the end of 2018.**
“You often hear, ‘if you’re not paying, you’re the product.’ But your data is an asset to any company, whether you’re paying for a product or not,” Koivunen says. “Data enables tech companies to sell billions in ads and products, building some of the biggest businesses in the history of money.”
F-Secure is offering the tool as part of the company’s growing focus on identity protection that secures consumers before, during, and after data breaches. By spreading awareness of the potential costs of these “free” services, the Data Discovery Portal aims to make users aware that securing their data and identity is more important than ever.
A recent F-Secure survey found that 54% of internet users over 25 worry about someone hacking into their social media accounts.*** Data is only as secure as the networks of the companies that collect it, and the passwords and tactics used to protect our accounts. While the settings these sites offer are useful, they cannot eliminate the collection of data.
“While consumers effectively volunteer this information, they should know the privacy and security implications of building accounts that hold more potential insight about our identities than we could possibly share with our family,” Koivunen says. “All of that information could be available to a hacker through a breach or an account takeover.”
However, there is no silver bullet for users when it comes to permanently locking down security or hiding it from the services they choose to use.
“Default privacy settings are typically quite loose, whether you’re using a social network, apps, browsers or any service,” Koivunen says. “Review your settings now, if you haven’t already, and periodically afterwards. And no matter what you can do, nothing stops these companies from knowing what you’re doing when you’re logged into their services.”