The latest Ericsson ConsumerLab report explores the blurring of online and physical activities, how online activities can result in dangers in the physical world and how it relates to consumers’ perception of safety.

The effects of what consumers do online increasingly have an impact on the physical world, from online shopping to working remotely. This also applies to areas such as personal threats, and in matters related to health and finances.

The insights presented in the new report are mainly based on data gathered from 27,668 face-to-face and online interviews with internet users aged 15-69 years old from July to September 2016. Almost half of the internet users surveyed say personal, financial and medical threats that originate online can manifest in the physical world. However, the other half still have a traditional threat perception and do not see threats in the physical and online worlds as interlinked.

Another key finding is that those with the highest number of threat concerns also feel the safest. So merely addressing threat concerns is not enough; the focus should be on supporting those who feel less in control.

While the report found that three in five internet users do not feel in control of their safety it discovered that those who use multiple safeguarding measures have the greatest feeling of safety.

Mobile operators’ unique market position

Mobile operators may be in a unique position to directly help consumers due to their presence online, in brick and mortar stores and on 24/7 helplines. Compared to operating system providers, app service providers and others who usually have limited consumer interactions across these touch points, mobile operators have an ongoing engagement with their customers.

The research concludes that consumers who feel safer have more trust in organizations to safeguard their personal data and that the key areas in which consumers need support are in preventing online identity theft and securing financial and contact information online. As online and offline threats are merging, safeguarding solutions that span both domains will become more important.

Ericsson ConsumerLab provides unique insights on market and consumer trends. It has more than 20 years’ experience of studying people’s behaviors and values, including the way they act and think about ICT products and services.

See if you feel the way the survey respondents do. Read the report