Just 2 per cent of New Zealanders trust social media sites to protect their personal information, according to Harris Poll of 1002 adults aged 18+, weighted to census data.

That makes social media companies easily the least-trusted providers, trailing healthcare providers, financial institutions, government and e-tailers by a large margin (see chart below).

The better news, for Facebook and its peers is that 75 per cent are willing to put aside their fears for the sake of convenience.

Source / Symantec.
Source / Symantec.

Norton LifeLock, the Symantec subsidiary that commissioned the survey, calls that the "privacy paradox."

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The poll, released today, was taken during October 2018.

That is, after it was revealed that 64,000 New Zealanders had their data shared without permission to Cambridge Analytica during the extended period that Facebook allowed friends to share other friends' data without any opt-in - but before the social network's latest privacy scandal with the revelation that millions of passwords were improperly stored as plain text.

And of course, it was before the tragic events in Christchurch, which have raised new questions about Facebook and other social media's sites ability to control the information stores on their platforms and how it is shared.

The study also found that 17 per cent of people or nearly one-in-five have deleted a social media account over the past 12 months because of privacy concerns.

And that 16 per cent of respondents - which extrapolates to 560,000 Kiwis - had experienced identity theft.

Some 5 per cent (160,000) had experienced identity theft over the past year.

The government recently created the Computer Emergency Response Team (or CERT NZ), which is designed to act as a triage centre that can direct individuals or small businesses to the best source of help if they're hit by a cyber attack.

People are also advised to keep all their software up to date - not just security software, use different passwords for every site (installing a password manager if you struggle to keep track), and to keep regular backups and to check that they work.

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Using "two-factor authentication" or 2FA also helps. That's when as well as entering a password, you have to type in a code sent to your smartphone.