Woburn, MA – January 28, 2021 – Today Kaspersky released a privacy forecast for 2021, part of its annual Kaspersky Security Bulletin. The report’s predictions address trends related to the collection of data, new government regulations, and a growing willingness among users to pay for privacy.

2020 demonstrated how overwhelmingly important a connected infrastructure and digital services have become for the daily functioning of society. This realization has contributed to an ongoing shift in attitudes toward privacy and the way citizens, organizations and governments perceive it. One clear trend is that players in each of these groups represent a clash of opposing forces.

According Kaspersky researchers, the standoff between various stakeholders will be defined by the following trends:

  1. Consumer privacy is going to be a value proposition and will, in most cases, cost money. Increased data gathering during the pandemic, combined with growing political turmoil that crossed into digital platforms, is yielding rapid growth in public awareness of unfettered data collection. As more users look to preserve their privacy, organizations are responding by offering privacy-focused products, the number and diversity of which is set to grow.
  2. Smart health device vendors are going to collect increasingly diverse data – and use it in far more diverse ways. The data gathered by fitness trackers, blood pressure monitors and other devices provide insights so valuable that they have already been used in court cases, not to mention by marketers and insurers who also find it extremely useful. And with public health having recently become such a prominent concern, the demand for such data will only grow.
  3. Governments are going to grow increasingly jealous of big-tech data hoarding – and more active in its regulations. Access to user data opens up a wide range of opportunities for efforts such as fighting child abuse or making city traffic more efficient. It can also be used for more nefarious purposes, like silencing dissent. Yet with most private organizations refusing to share this data, governments could respond with more regulations that hinder online privacy. The most heated debates will focus on privacy-preserving technologies such as end-to-end encryption, DNS-over-HTTPS and cryptocurrencies.
  4. Data companies are going to find ever more creative, and sometimes more intrusive, sources of data to fuel the behavioral analytics machine. Data-driven behavioral analytics is a dangerous game to play. Errors can be damaging to people, while the actual quality of these systems is often a trade secret. But that will not stop organizations working in this field from finding more creative ways to profile users based on what they like and do and thereby influence their lives.
  5. Multi-party computations, differential privacy and federated learning are going to become more widely adopted – as well as edge computing. As companies become more conscious about what data they actually need, and consumers push back against unchecked data collection, more advanced privacy tools are emerging and becoming more widely adopted. Big-tech organizations will move to guarantee users’ new and strict privacy standards. More advanced hardware will emerge, enabling developers to create tools that are capable of advanced data processing, thereby decreasing the amount of data shared by users with organizations.

“Last year, many users realized for the very first time how much information they share and what they get in return,” said Vladislav Tushkanov, privacy expert at Kaspersky. “With heightened awareness comes better understanding of the right to privacy and how to exercise it. As a result, privacy has become a hot-button issue at the intersection of governmental, corporate and personal interests, which gave rise to many different and even conflicting trends in how data is gathered and privacy preserved – or, on the contrary, violated. I hope that this year and in the years to come we will be able to find a balance between the use of data by governments and businesses, and respecting the right to privacy. On a final note, I’d like to assert that while as consumers we don’t have full control over our data, there is a lot we can do to reclaim some of our privacy and control of our personal data.”

Read a more detailed account of Kaspersky’s privacy predictions for 2021 on Securelist.

These predictions are part of Kaspersky Security Bulletin (KSB) – an annual series of predictions and analytical articles on key changes in the world of cybersecurity. Click here to see other KSB pieces.

For a deeper dive into online privacy on social networks, Kaspersky recommends using its Privacy Checker, a simple tool that describes each and every setting in a chosen social network and gives advice on how to set it up for different levels of privacy on different platforms. Privacy Checker is not limited to social networks; it can help users set up their operating system for better privacy as well.

About Kaspersky

Kaspersky is a global cybersecurity company founded in 1997. Kaspersky’s deep threat intelligence and security expertise is constantly transforming into innovative security solutions and services to protect businesses, critical infrastructure, governments and consumers around the globe. The company’s comprehensive security portfolio includes leading endpoint protection and a number of specialized security solutions and services to fight sophisticated and evolving digital threats. Over 400 million users are protected by Kaspersky technologies and we help 250,000 corporate clients protect what matters most to them. Learn more at usa.kaspersky.com.

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2021 Privacy predictions: Behavioral analytics, data hoarding and government crackdowns on encryption


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