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New Research From Virtru Shows Consumers Care About Email Privacy but Lack Easy-to-Use Tools to Take Action

People Want Easy-to-Use Technologies That Protect Their Private Communications Online and Gives Them Control Over Where Email Messages and Attachments Are Distributed, Who Sees Them, and For How Long


January 21, 2014 08:50 AM Eastern Standard Time
WASHINGTON–(Marketwired)– Virtru, a company dedicated to making it simple to keep private communications private, today announced the findings of new research conducted on its behalf by Harris Interactive, one of the world’s leading market research firms. The online survey took place in December 2013 and polled more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older to determine attitudes and behaviors related to email usage and privacy. The survey findings show the majority of Americans online, 73 percent, are concerned about the privacy of their email communications. Among those who have not taken any steps to protect their privacy online, 38 percent shared they don’t know how and 46 percent don’t know where to begin.

The technology industry has long struggled with balancing consumer privacy with convenience. Major email and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) ask consumers to give up personal information to be shared with advertisers in turn for access to free services and entertainment. This, coupled with ongoing government surveillance revelations has put digital privacy at the center of public discourse and consumer awareness toward online privacy at an all-time high.

Virtru set out to determine just how concerned individuals were about email privacy and what tools they would find useful in helping to control and protect their personal information online. A summary of key findings follow:

  • 75 percent of those who send emails are at least somewhat concerned that when sending an email their personal information will be read by organizations or individuals other than the intended recipient.
  • Only 14 percent of online adults shared they are not at all concerned that email providers like Google and Yahoo! use content of their private messages for targeted advertisements. More than half (56 percent) of online adults said they were extremely/very concerned/concerned with this practice.
  • While only 34 percent of online adults shared that they had taken steps such as using a secure email provider, encrypted technologies like PGP or installing a secure browser to protect their privacy online, the remaining adults cited the reason they hadn’t taken measures to protect their privacy was not because they didn’t care, but that they weren’t sure where to start (46 percent) or didn’t know how (38 percent).

Along with the survey findings, Virtru also announced today the launch of its encrypted email and privacy service. Virtru combines rock-solid encryption with privacy features that give individuals back control of their private communications and data and makes these features available in the tools people use every day including Gmail, Yahoo!, Outlook and Mac Mail. With Virtru’s easy-to-use email plug-in and first-of-its-kind privacy controls, a sender can revoke an email at any time, restrict whether recipients are allowed to forward the message, and give sensitive emails an expiration date. See video overview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sErf3VCeaHE

Virtru’s unique privacy features address the public’s desire for easy-to-use technologies that protect private information and empower individuals with control and choice over how their private online communication is viewed and shared throughout its lifetime, wherever the information travels. 77 percent of those who send emails said they would find features such as those offered by Virtru useful. Asked what features they would find most valuable, the ability to see where emails had been forwarded topped the list (51 percent); followed by the ability to recall a sent message (48 percent); the ability to restrict the forwarding of messages (45 percent); and the ability to set expiration dates to messages (36 percent).

“Virtru is a company founded on the belief that people have a fundamental right to privacy and that exercising this right should be easy and available to everyone,” said John Ackerly, Co-Founder and CEO of Virtru. “We believe our technology will change the digital privacy landscape by allowing individuals to determine the scope of how their digital communications are viewed and shared, while at the same time restoring consumer confidence in the security of their private information.”

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Virtru from Dec. 13-17, 2013, among 2,129 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact pr@virtru.com.

About Virtru
Virtru is the first company to make email privacy accessible to everyone. With a single plug-in, Virtru empowers individuals and business to control who receives, reviews and retains their digital information — wherever it travels, throughout its lifespan. The company has set a new standard for digital privacy based on the Trusted Data Format (TDF), created by Virtru Co-Founder Will Ackerly and used by the intelligence community to secure some of the nation’s most sensitive data. Virtru requires no special skills or knowledge, supports all popular email and file types, and can be used on a PC, Mac or mobile device. To learn more about the company, go to http://www.virtru.com/ and follow Virtru on Twitter @virtruprivacy.