Survey: 89 Percent Of Mobile Device Users Unaware Smartphones Can Transmit Confidential Information

AVG Technologies recently revealed details of a sobering study uncovering new statistics about the data security risks involved in everyday smartphone use. Findings are the result of a recent study conducted by the Ponemon Institute in concert with AVG of 734 random U.S. consumers over age 18 regarding their mobile communications behavior.

Full survey results are available in an AVG white paper at http://aa-download.avg.com/filedir/other/Smartphone.pdf.

The study confirmed AVG’s concerns focusing on consumers’ indifference to the many serious security risks associated with the storage and transmission of sensitive personal data on iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices. Following are three of the most alarming:

89 percent of respondents were unaware that smartphone applications can transmit confidential payment information such as credit card details without the user’s knowledge or consent.

91 percent of respondents were unaware that financial applications for smartphones can be infected with specialized malware designed to steal credit card numbers and online banking credentials, yet nearly a third (29 percent) report already storing credit and debit card information on their devices and 35 percent report storing “confidential” work related documents as well.

56 percent of respondents did not know that failing to properly log off from a social network app could allow an imposter to post malicious details or change personal settings without their knowledge. Of those aware, 37 percent were unsure whether or not their profiles had already been manipulated.

Other Smartphone security dangers include geo-tracking based on location data embedded onto image files; the transmission of confidential payment information without the user’s knowledge or consent; and unauthorized (and often unnoticed) premium-service orders on the monthly bill.

"The findings of this study signal what could be an overlooked security risk for organizations created by employees' use of smartphones. Because consumers in our study report that they often use smartphones interchangeably for business and personal, organizations should make sure their security policies include guidelines for the appropriate use of smartphones that are used for company purposes," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of Ponemon Institute. According to the study, 28 percent of respondents were unaware that using their smartphone for business and personal reasons can put business information at risk.

“We have increasing responsibility to educate consumers on the dangers lurking in mobile broadband and to help users take ownership of their mobile data security,” said J.R. Smith, CEO, AVG Technologies. “The mobile internet does not have to be a risky environment, though the industry must work together to encourage users to take action by downloading low-cost or free anti-virus products specifically designed to protect mobile data.

“In the last month alone, we’ve seen high profile mobile security lapses with dozens of infected applications being removed from Google’s Android App Store, and such occurrences will only become more frequent without action from the industry and consumers alike.”

 

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