Australians are less worried about potential privacy issues associated with technology than they were before COVID-19, a new report has revealed.

Even though 80 per cent of respondents to Deloitte’s Digital Consumer Trends 2020 survey said they were aware that tech companies used their data, only 31 per cent were worried about the subsequent use of their personal data.

In 2018, more than half of Australians said they were concerned about how their data was being used.

Deloitte partner, Peter Corbett, said the survey pointed to changing attitudes in Australians’ relationships with, and attitudes toward, technology.

“While privacy is usually seen as a right, there has been a shift through the pandemic,” he said.

“Sixty per cent of Australians support the installation of thermal cameras in densely populated public spaces and nearly half of us support government-organised location tracking to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Technology is helping us stay one step ahead in the fight against COVID-19. But it’s coming at a cost to privacy.”

That changing attitude has come at a time when the rate of technological adoption – and data collection – has understandably increased.

A majority of Australians admitted they had been using their smartphones more during lockdown and a further 35 per cent of respondents said their social media use had increased – which was more than other popular at-home behaviours like streaming TV shows, reading news online, or even spending time with family.

Be careful on your work machine

Watch out because growth in social media use, combined with a rise in working from home has also been pegged as an added security risk for Australian organisations.

A global survey, commissioned by cybersecurity company Mimecast, examined how people have been using their work machines for purposes other than work.

Overall, 73 per cent of respondents admitted to things like jumping on emails, doing banking, or using social media on their work laptops – behaviours that had increased by more than 50 per cent since COVID-19.

But Australians were above that average with 80 per cent of us saying we used work machines for personal reasons, for an average time of 2.4 hours per day.

Josh Douglas, vice president of threat intelligence at Mimecast, said organisations needed to be aware of the potential risks that come with non-sanctioned activity on company hardware.

“With everyone’s home becoming their new office, classroom and place of residence, it’s not really a surprise that employees are using their company-issued devices for personal use,” he said.

“However, this is also a big opportunity for threat actors to target victims in new ways.

“We’ve seen attacks become more aggressive and the attack surface has expanded due to the new ‘WFH’ or hybrid work environments.”

Since phishing is a major point of entry for bad actors, personal email use is an especially dangerous activity since it likely won’t be monitored by an organisation’s IT staff.

Mimecast found young people were especially vulnerable with nearly 60 per cent of people in the 16-24 age bracket saying they had opened emails even though they looked dodgy.