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Kaspersky Lab study reveals the distressing effect of data loss

By Jonnah Pante - on 4 May 2017, 12:37pm

Kaspersky Lab study reveals the distressing effect of data loss

We all have tendencies of taking things for granted and unsurprisingly, data is one of them. In fact, a new study conducted by Kaspersky Lab revealed that while people claim that they understand the value of their data, in reality they don’t appreciate its importance until it is lost.

Image from Kaspersky Lab

A recent research which Kaspersky Lab dubbed as the "My Precious Data" study revealed that people felt “distressed” and “traumatized” when they lose data particularly those that are personal including private and sensitive photos and videos. The study also concluded that aside from what the respondents consider as their most personally important data, people also felt troubled when they lose data that are considered less important.

For example, the prospect of losing contact details is considered highly distressing for many, putting it in the top three most distressing types of data to lose, despite the fact that contact details generally rank much lower in terms of data ‘importance’.

To take a deeper look on this case, Kaspersky Lab collaborated with psychologists from the University of Wuerzburg. The respondents’ physical reactions to data loss was measured and observed in a series of three experiments.

Infographic from Kaspersky Lab

During testing, psychologists measured electrodermal activity or changes in the skin’s sweat glands. While users were most likely to break a sweat when they believed they had lost important data, sweat levels weren’t that far behind when trivial data was considered lost by participants.

The same pattern was found during the two other experiments. For example, people’s nose tip temperatures dropped when the loss of important data was simulated. This physical indicator of stress showed the respondents literally going cold with fear.

However, nose tip temperature drops were also measured when respondents believed they had lost trivial data and the difference wasn’t as extreme as the psychologists expected.

Likewise, when systematic facial observations were measured, the experiment detected sad expressions when the loss of both important and trivial data was simulated.

Although the experiments showed people getting into a cold sweat and looking distressed at the thought of losing their data, the difference in electrodermal activity, nose tip temperatures, and expressions of sadness were surprisingly small when comparing the loss of important and trivial data.

This demonstrates that even trivial data is physically distressing to lose, with respondents only realizing how important this data was to them, when they believed they had lost it.

To read the full report, you may visit this website.