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Trust in communications is decreasing

06 March 2012

While the UK is becoming increasingly better connected, trust in those connections is declining.

Cloudmark, a provider of messaging security, has published details of a survey into Connected Communications conducted in conjunction with online research provider Toluna. It found a “a wave of distrust across all major communications channels (mobile, fixed and social networking) due to fears surrounding security threats such as viruses, spam and phishing attacks.”

For example, while the mobile arena is experiencing massive growth in all areas, trust in it has stalled. Nearly one in five users consider SMS to be less secure today than it was a year ago. Nevertheless, many users consider it to be the most secure platform available, with actual trust decreasing with age. Thirty-five percent of users between 18 and 24 deem it safe, while only 14% in the 55+ demographic are so certain.

Cloudmark believes that the general distrust in mobile communications could prove a barrier to the growth of m-commerce “unless the security threats experienced across the mobile platform are addressed.” More than half of UK mobile users do not have sufficient trust in the security of their mobile device to use it to pay for goods and services. Again, the level of actual trust is higher in the younger demographic.
 
A similar contradiction appears in social networking. Its use on mobile platforms is increasing, while trust in its security is decreasing: only 3.2% of users named social networking as the most secure communications platform. A full 38.4% of users consider social networking to be less secure today than it was a year ago.
 
But it is email that has suffered the greatest loss of trust. Forty-five percent of users have less trust today in email as a communications platform than they did 12 months ago. Fraud-related abuse remains the most common threat across all platforms. 63% of users have experienced this threat on email, while only 13.1% have experienced it across the mobile channel.
 
Overall, the Cloudmark survey shows a general decrease in users’ trust. Security professionals would suggest that this is a good thing since it is false trust that leads to security incidents. However, it is not so clear whether this user distrust comes from increased awareness in security or increased success by cybercriminals. 
 
Jacinta Tobin, chief marketing officer, Cloudmark, believes that the decreasing levels of trust “serves to underline the importance of keeping [the mobile] channel ‘clean’. The inherently personal nature of the mobile device is clearly fostering a high level of trust among consumers but if the potential of the channel as a platform for engaging consumers with value-added, opt-in services is to be realised, it is vital that this high level of trustworthiness is upheld.”
This article is featured in:
Internet and Network Security  •  Malware and Hardware Security  •  Wireless and Mobile Security

 

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