Online or lost: our constant connection dependency

Key findings

  • For 22%, being connected is a life essential. The need to stay connected is therefore powerful – 1-in-5 people feel naked without their device, and nearly a quarter (23%) of people said they would prefer to be caught naked in public than not have their connected device with them!
  • People therefore have their device with them in all kinds of places and situations – such as when sleeping, eating, going to the toilet etc. – with 1-in-10 having their device with them at all times
  • But there is a good reason for this reliance on connectivity, such as staying in contact with loved ones. People are concerned that if they don’t an active connection, their loved ones will worry (51%), or that they won’t be able to help if something happens to someone important to them (45%).
  • People are often willing to take risks and neglect their own safety for the sake of staying online – 26% have looked at their phone screen when crossing the street and 21% have looked at their phone screen when walking in an unknown/dangerous area
  • Losing a device is one of the most stressful experiences a user can go through – 90% of respondents admitted they would feel stressed if their device was lost or stolen. By comparison, 88% would feel a level of stress by missing a train/plane, or being involved in a minor car accident (88%), while 80% would feel stressed by getting sick (80%).
  • However, despite its importance, too many people are taking connectivity for granted. For example, 18% of people do nothing to keep their devices working and connected, only 34% control battery levels and only 22% regularly check their device’s health.
  • It’s therefore no surprise that 9-in-10 respondents have faced a problem with their device – e.g. the battery ran out without the ability to recharge it (76%), the device stopped working because of a technical reason (40%), or the device was left somewhere (37%). As a result, people have faced risks to their professional and personal lives

A world ruled by connectivity

Devices cost hundreds of dollars, rarely last more than a few years, and take up a huge amount of our time – yet we can’t live without the connectivity they provide. From taking photos and sharing them, to helping us navigate and stay in contact with loved ones, the digital world now plays a key role in our daily lives.

Indeed, our online lifestyles have developed so much in recent years that internet usage is now constantly shifting, encompassing many different activities and situations. This is shown by the fact that 69% of people always have their smartphone with them when leaving the house (even for a short period of time) and 1-in-10 have their device with them at all times, such as when they are eating, sleeping, and even when they are on the toilet!

Taking this desire to stay connected into account, security measures have had to adapt to keep up. What’s more, a lack of connectivity can now actually seem worse than many other unpleasant situations. That’s according to new research from Kaspersky Lab, which asked 11,250 mobile device-owning consumers, aged 18-60, in 15 countries, about the importance of staying online, the connection issues they have faced, and the consequences of not being able to connect.

Not all survey results are presented in this report. For more information, please contact us at

Not all survey results are presented in this report. For more information, please contact us at

Having internet access is vital to my life

Before you read any further, think back to conversations you may have had with your parents or grandparents. Did they ever talk to you about what it was like growing up in a world without connected devices? For many of us, this is hard to relate to. The digital world has become so ingrained in our everyday lives that it’s hard to imagine anything else. Indeed, nearly a third (32%) of our respondents said they can’t remember what life was like before they were constantly connected.

Not being able to instantly access breaking news from around the world on Twitter, watch the latest trending videos on YouTube, or quickly search for something on Google seems incomprehensible to the millions of us that have grown up using – and in some cases, relying on – the internet.

Connectivity is now a key component of our existence. For over a fifth (22%) of respondents to our survey, being connected is as important as having easy access to food, water and shelter. What’s more, 43% say checking their device is the first thing they do in the morning and 1-in-5 say they feel ‘naked’ without their device, highlighting just how eager people are to stay online.

Losing a smartphone or tablet can therefore create a huge amount of stress. 90% of respondents admitted they would feel stressed if their device was lost or stolen, with half (52%) saying they would either be “very stressed” or couldn’t even imagine how stressful this situation would be. This figure is higher than people who would feel any level of stress by missing a train/plane (88%), being involved in a minor car accident (88%), or getting sick (80%).

Indeed, the thought of not being able to go online causes so much anxiety that nearly a quarter (23%) of people would prefer to be caught naked in public than not have their connected device with them! People would also rather: get stuck in the rain without a coat/umbrella (46%), not have any money on them (34%) and not have any warm clothes when it’s cold (31%), than not have access to their connected device. Sound crazy but familiar? Go on, be honest with yourself.

The result of this need for connectivity is that people are prepared to take risks and even neglect their safety in order to stay online. For example, 43% are willing to use any Wi-Fi network available to get online and 26% have looked at their phone screen when crossing the street.

A further 21% have looked at their phone when walking in an unknown/dangerous area, 21% have used their device in a situation where it was at risk of physical damage (such as near water, or at a significant height) and 13% have left their device unattended in a public place to charge it.

As well as highlighting how many of us can’t bear to live without our smartphones, tablets, computers etc., the desire for instant online access also emphasises the variety of situations in which connectivity plays a key role. Our research drew attention to three scenarios in particular.

I rely on connectivity to keep my loved ones in the loop…

Enabling us to keep track of what’s going on in the wider world isn’t the only advantage to staying connected. Being online also means we don’t miss out or mess up.

For example – have you ever heard someone talk about how they’ve missed a great opportunity (maybe related to their work or education), because their phone wasn’t with them at the time? Or how a relationship was affected by their device not working? The chances are, you probably have.

That’s because people today depend on being able to stay in touch with their loved ones, friends, colleagues and associates in times of need. When they can’t use their device, the most worrying factors for consumers are that their family/friends will be concerned (51%) and that they will not be able to help a family member if something happens to them (45%).

The danger is that, if your device safety is not able to adapt to your connectivity needs, issues can arise when you least expect them. For example, the majority (76%) of people have had their battery run out while they don’t have the ability to recharge it. Moreover, 40% have experienced problems with their device due to a technical fault (such as a broken hard drive) and 37% have simply left their device somewhere else.

Connectivity issues like this can lead to problems. For example, in terms of the consequences associated with not having a working connection, the most common response cited by our respondents was again causing concern amongst loved ones (37%), something which can lead to arguments and even break ups.

When we invited our survey respondents to tell us more about their experiences, there were many touching stories about people who have damaged their relationships because of lost connectivity. For example, one explained how his partner of seven years left him, because she thought he was cheating on her when she wasn’t able to contact him via phone. This was just one of the stories our survey respondents told us about, with many others featuring mothers worrying about their kids’ wellbeing, and partners worrying about each other cheating.

Other potential consequences of lost connectivity cited by our respondents included losing in their favorite online, mobile or computer game (24%), missing out on an education or business opportunity (21%), or missing a date (21%).

Because things can go wrong, for many of us, being constantly connected is now a necessity; it allows us to remediate difficult circumstances, or communicate with others in moments when we need to the most. It’s therefore vital that we use tools that keep our devices in good working order.

…my holidays are heading in the right direction…

Imagine you are going on holiday with your family. You’ve packed the essentials – passports, money, plane tickets – but would your smartphone or tablet also be on that list? According to our research, devices are invaluable for many people when they go on holiday, as shown by the 39% of people who cannot imagine travelling anywhere without one.

But why are they so important? Well, when on holiday, people rely on devices for several reasons, with taking photos (63%), navigating (55%) and calling for help if needed (51%) coming in at the top of the list.

With this dependence there can be problems – 17% of respondents said they have had issues with travel as a consequence of losing connectivity. This highlights the importance of keeping our connections as stable and secure as possible, especially when users are ‘on the go’ and therefore potentially relying on being connected to stay in touch with the world.

So, with your devices packed, you get to your destination and set off on your first sightseeing trip to a nearby attraction, with your smartphone’s navigation app showing you the way. But imagine if while you’re there, it runs out of battery, leaving you with no way of knowing how to get to safety.

Judging by our survey responses, this would be a stressful experience for a significant proportion of people. Nearly two-fifths (39%) worry about being lost in an unknown place and 84% say they would feel stressed in this situation. Our respondents rated it as being more stressful than taking an exam (80%) or having to go to the dentist for some unpleasant work (73%), which shows just how upsetting a lack of connection to the online world can be.

Given our respondents’ experiences, it’s easy to see why. As a result of connectivity issues, one of our survey respondents had got stuck in the desert when their smartphone ran out of battery, while many others had been unable to find places to stay, and restaurants to eat in, when travelling.

If devices are being relied on in multiple different types of scenarios, then the protective measures used to secure our connectivity, also need to be able to adapt.

Of course, users themselves still have a responsibility to keep themselves connected. Taking simple steps to make sure that devices are fully-functional and ready to use at all times – such as keeping track of their device’s battery life – can go a long way towards ensuring that any tricky holiday situations are avoided.

…and sometimes, to distract myself from reality

Interestingly, as well as keeping people in touch with the online world, devices are also frequently relied on for exactly the opposite – helping people avoid communicating with others. Ever used your device in order to avoid eye-contact or conversation with someone else?

Many of us will have been at a party or public gathering and not known anyone there to talk to. Or, perhaps you want to order a takeaway and simply don’t want to have to talk to anyone at all!

This is where connectivity can be a major asset. For example, three-quarters (75%) of people have used their device to pretend to be busy when they didn’t want to talk to someone, and 72% have used them when they don’t know what to do in a certain situation. Furthermore, 46% of respondents use their device to kill time every day, and 44% use their device to distract themselves every day.

This reliance on stable internet access extends into plenty more everyday situations. Nearly a third (31%) of respondents prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi, ordering food, communicating or finding directions to somewhere via websites and apps because they find it easier than talking to other people. After all, who wants to interact with other humans when they have the entire internet at their fingertips?!

Of course, the flipside is that not having access to the distraction of the internet can therefore cause some discomfort. When they can’t use their connected device, 34% of people worry that they will have no way of entertaining themselves, while 12% worry that they will have no way of pretending to be busy.

It seems that connectivity can provide a valuable ‘comfort blanket’ to people when they find themselves in uncomfortable situations, which is yet another reason why looking after them is so important.

So, it’s time to start caring for my connection

As our research shows, there can be no escaping the fact that connectivity has become an essential component of our daily lives. From everyday tasks such as ordering a taxi, to helping maintain our relationships and keeping us safe, we rely on the internet to help us enjoy life.

However, despite how valuable it has become, many people are taking connectivity for granted. For example, our research found that 20% of people expect others to be connected all of the time.

Even more concerning is that fact that the vast majority of respondents aren’t prepared for when something goes wrong. Only 12% of people have a backup plan in place for when their device is not working, with the same figure having a replacement device when needed.

Ultimately, too many people are not taking care of their devices, thereby inadvertently leaving themselves exposed to potentially stressful and worrying situations. Simple actions such as ensuring they connect to networks securely, and monitoring device battery life, are being neglected. This needs to change if these situations are to be avoided.

But, there is a way for consumers to remain both connected and secure – without requiring lots of additional gadgets and equipment, and in a way that adapts to different situations and scenarios.

Because every person’s connected life is different, Kaspersky Security Cloud adapts to suit each user, the environment they are in, how they are connecting, and with what device. It has several features that support Mac, Windows, iOS and Android users and ensure that they stay as safe as possible while they are connected, for example:

  • When you can’t afford for your computer to let you down, the Hard Drive Health Monitor feature predicts and tracks errors on your computer’s hard drive before problems take hold and cause issues.
  • If you become the victim of crime and your device is stolen, the Anti-Theft feature will help you locate and get your Android device back – it allows you to turn on an alarm (even if the device’s sound is off), lock and locate the device, wipe all data, and even take a mugshot of the person using the device. So, if your device is lost or stolen, you can keep your data safe.
  • If you are out and about, and relying on public Wi-Fi to stay connected – Secure Connection allows you to protect your information from prying eyes on any device. The feature establishes a secure connection, hides your IP address and location, and uses an encrypted channel to transfer data so that no-one else can intercept your traffic. It is switched on when needed, when Wi-Fi connections are insecure, or when you are transferring sensitive information.
  • If you’re relying on your device to go from A to B, and you can’t afford your battery to run low – the Device Power Consumption feature means you know how much battery you have left on your Android device, and how much time you have before it runs out, so that you have time to recharge.
  • If your children are away from home and you want them to stay connected – Battery Tracker, a new feature in Kaspersky Safe Kids, notifies parents when the battery level gets low on their children’s mobile devices. This gives parents better peace of mind about their children’s security.

Everyone’s online experience is different, so a bespoke level of security is now required to live individual digital lives in safety. With adaptive security from Kaspersky Lab, users can rest safe in the knowledge that no matter where they go or what they do, they will be able to stay protected, connected, and get themselves out of any tricky situations they find themselves in.