Mobile Phone Users, Obsessed With Devices, Still Lack Proper Security

While consumers recognize mobile security as important, they still don’t take the right precautions, according to a survey by Sprint and Lookout.

Wireless users have a striking attachment to mobile devices and a concern about the exposure of their personal information, according to a survey commissioned by mobile security specialist Lookout and telecommunications giant Sprint and conducted by Harris Interactive.

Despite being deeply attached to their mobile phones, Americans surveyed exhibit risky behavior when using the devices. The study found that more than a quarter (26 percent) of respondents were unaware of the risks of clicking on unfamiliar links while browsing on mobile, while 18 percent said they store password information on their phones.

People are most concerned about someone seeing information without their permission on their mobile phones, including personally identifiable information (42 percent), bank and financial information (33 percent), contacts information (29 percent) and text messages (23 percent).

While consumers recognize that mobile security is an important issue, people still don't take the right precautions; only 44 percent of those surveyed said they set a PIN or a passcode on their phones.

Just under two-thirds (63 percent) of people surveyed said they check their smartphones at least once an hour, while 9 percent check every five minutes. A third of respondents said they would fear the contents of their mobile phones being projected on a big screen.

Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of those polled said they would be upset if they left home without their smartphones. Additionally, when people are without their devices, they miss texting (29 percent) and calling (26 percent) most.

Meanwhile, nearly all (97 percent) of the mobile phone owners surveyed reported checking their phones occasionally while in the presence of family and friends. Unsurprisingly, the amount of time between phone-checks goes down among the youngest age groups and increased markedly as age goes up.

Lookout and Sprint provided a short list of recommendations for smarter mobile phone usage, including carefully determining what sites to visit. (The small screen size makes it especially tricky to determine a safe link from a fraudulent one.)

Other quick tips are setting a pin or passcode to prevent unauthorized access to data, storing the device in a zipped pocket or bag when in a public location, and minimizing the risk of picking up a malicious application by only downloading from official apps stores as well as reading app reviews and checking the developer reputation before an installation.

In a Lookout-commissioned Google Consumer survey earlier this year, 15 percent of those surveyed said they've caught someone in the act of snooping, including spouses (38 percent), friends (24 percent), children (18 percent), co-workers (11 percent) and others (14 percent) as the culprits. However, nearly one in five (19 percent) mobile phone owners admitted to looking in someone else's phone without their permission.