Mobile device owners ignoring online security, study shows
The latest research from the National Cyber Security Alliance and McAfee has revealed that consumer online security habits are not keeping pacing with the recent growth in mobile web usage.
According to the study of more than 2,300 Americans, 72 percent of respondents indicated that they have never installed data protection application or security software of any kind on their smartphones. This dismissal of online security best practices is disconcerting, as it greatly increases the risk of data loss and malware infections. As mobile device use continues to take on added significance in the consumer lifestyle, the compound effects could be much worse.
Nearly half of U.S. smartphone owners now access the internet through their devices, according to the report, and three out of four respondents reported more frequent web browsing this year than in 2010.
Mobile device owners also seem to be suffering from a false sense of confidence. According to the study, 70 percent of respondents felt that their device was inherently safe from the most common online security threats and saw no need of taking additional precautions. Citing data from the Wall Street Journal, report authors noted that less than half of smartphone owners employ any password protection strategy, such as a password organizer.
As a result, American smartphone owners are storing and accessing increasingly sensitive information on their devices, making them all the more attractive targets for cybercriminals. Researchers revealed that one in four respondents store computer or banking passwords on their mobile device.
"Just as mobile retailers are working to meet the holiday consumer demand for mobile devices and users are working to optimize the convenience of new technologies, cybercriminals are creatively working on new ways to penetrate our digital properties," explained McAfee executive vice president John Thode. "This study highlights the need to focus on the security of our mobile devices and networks as mobile technologies are adopted by an ever-increasing amount of the population and becoming a central part of our lives."
To level the online security playing field, NCSA analysts encouraged consumers to keep data protection in mind from the very moment they purchase a new smartphone. Shoppers must stay informed to determine which security features will be needed to safeguard their own unique usage habits. Looking over product reviews and asking detailed questions once in the store can ensure consumers walk away with the proper purchase.