Nearly half of UK adults don’t know their browsing history is visible to third parties

Grace Macej 10 Oct 2022

Our recent research shows that there’s a lack of knowledge when it comes to third parties accessing our search history and how this information is used.

Avast recently conducted research that discovered misconceptions about privacy protection while browsing the web. 2 in 5 Brits (43%) don’t know their browsing history could be used to scam them financially, and 44% aren’t aware that it can be sold legally to third parties for the purpose of targeting them with ads. 

Here are a handful of additional key takeaways from our findings:

  • 47% of UK adults are not aware their internet browsing history can still be seen by third parties, even without physical access to their device

  • 44% aren’t aware that their browsing history can be sold legally to third parties for the purpose of targeting them with ads

  • Two thirds (64%) of Brits admit to hiding some of their browser history from others, but 32% don’t even know how to delete it

  • Only 39% know how to delete their search history on all their devices, over half (52%) want to know more about how to protect themselves online

  • 2 in 5 Brits (43%) aren’t aware their browsing history can be used by hackers for financial scams

Furthermore, over half (51%) of Brits have been the target of a phishing scam and 49% feel as though they are being tracked online.

Brits yearning for increased privacy online

While our findings revealed that over half (52%) of UK adults said they wished they knew more about protecting their safety online, 32% don’t know how to delete their browsing history.

Nearly a third (32%) of Brits said they wouldn’t want anyone to see their browsing history, with their partners and spouses (19%) being the one person Brits most want to hide it from. In fact, a significant minority (20%) choose not to keep their browsing history private.

“As the window to the internet for 4.6 billion digital citizens around the world, the browser is a prime target for advertisers and cybercriminals, which means browser security and privacy is absolutely central to our daily online interactions,” said Jaya Baloo, Chief Information Security Officer at Avast, a NortonLifeLock company. 

Here’s how to enjoy life online, worry-free

Many people only ever use the browsers pre-installed on their devices, without considering alternative options. Our research demonstrates an obvious knowledge gap about the fact that people's browsing activity is being viewed and monetized by others, as well as the potential security issues which cybercriminals are always trying to profit from. 

We built Avast Secure Browser to ease the burden of technical complexity so people can experience the web as they want and leave everything else to security and privacy experts.  With our exclusive 12-month offer of Avast Secure Browser PRO for students, it’s possible to enjoy all the benefits of a premium and unlimited VPN for a full year for just 99p.

The research was conducted by OnePoll, between 2nd September 2-6, 2022, polling 2,000 UK adults.

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