Mobile device users continue to be lax about installing security software or using strong pass codes to protect data saved on their mobile devices, behavior that can have an impact on enterprises.
Mobile users have a false
sense of security when it comes to their devices, according to a recent report
About 70 percent of
smartphone owners said they considered their devices to be safe from
cyber-crime, according to a report from the National Cyber-Security Alliance
and McAfee released Dec. 27. Even though the report was primarily
consumer-oriented, the findings provide insight into how mobile users could
impact the country's collective digital infrastructure, McAfee said.
A little over 70 percent of
the respondents said they had never installed any form of security software or
data protection applications on their device. Respondents said they considered
their device to be safe from data theft and other cyber-threats.
precautions to protect smart phones from virus attacks and other threats is not
common practice for U.S. consumers as most feel their devices are safe
enough," McAfee said.
The lack of security
awareness is worrisome, considering that many employees are using their
unprotected devices to access work email, read files and log in to enterprise
applications. The employee may own the device, but the fact that corporate
information may be stored without any data protection is a security risk.
While mobile Internet users
may not worry much about the possibility of their devices being attacked, data
thieves and hackers are continuously evolving their operations to take
advantage of complacent users and exploit software vulnerabilities, McAfee
At the same time, new
applications are constantly developed and released to meet a variety of user
needs, and smartphone owners are downloading more of them. In the past six
months, smartphone owners were most likely to download games (46 percent of the
time), followed by social-networking applications (at 37 percent), according to
the McAfee report.
A little over a quarter, or
26 percent, of the smartphone owners in the survey said they read the developer
policy when downloading an application to determine how the application would
use personal information, McAfee said. Almost half the respondents said they
have removed an application or not installed one over security and safety
Of those users who rejected
an application over security concerns, about 71 percent claimed being unsure of
what personal data was being collected and how it would be used was the primary
reason for uninstalling the application, McAfee said.
McAfee recommended that
users "understand" the applications they download, and review the
Mobile Web use has
increased. About 44 percent of the respondents use smartphones to access the
Internet for shopping, surfing or socializing. About 75 percent of the
respondents said they access the Internet more frequently using smartphones
than they did even a year ago, according to the survey.
Users should "get
savvy" about the public WiFi hotspots they connect to so that they don't
expose themselves to man-in-the-middle-attacks by cyber-criminals. Even if the
user thinks the hotspot is safe, they should limit the type of application and
Websites being accessed, according to McAfee.
McAfee cited statistics from
digital research firm comScore, estimating that nearly 32.5 million Americans had
accessed banking information using their mobile devices at the end of the 2011
A Consumer Reports
study found that 24 percent of users stored
computer and banking passwords on their smartphones and other mobile devices,
according to McAfee.
Considering that, if the
phone is lost or stolen, anyone can potentially harvest the data saved on the
device, McAfee recommended using strong pass codes to lock the phone as well as
selecting long and strong passwords to secure accounts.