Growing number of mobile users worried about geolocation privacy

The survey, carried out by IT security vendor Webroot, took in responses from more than 1500 social networking system users who own geo-location-ready mobile devices, and found that, although 39% use geolocation on their mobile devices, many expressed concerns over security and privacy.

In addition, says Webroot, a surprising number engaged in behaviours that could put themselves and their private information at risk. Among the key findings:

Forty-five percent admitted they are very concerned about letting potential burglars know when they're away from home, whilst 29% said they have shared their geolocation with people other than their friends.

Worryingly, one in nine said they used a location-based tool to meet a stranger – either digitally or in person.

According to Jeff Horne, director of threat research with Webroot, as location-based applications continue to gain popularity, mobile internet users should all be increasingly aware of what cyber-criminals can do with the huge amount of personal data that is being shared by everyone on the web.

"People often get excited about the new features available on social networks and forget about the power of the internet and the amount of valuable information they give away through the simple act of updating their status and 'checking-in' at their current location", he explained.

The survey also turned up the interesting fact that 22.4% of those surveyed were victims of a phishing attempt to steal their social network password, whilst 16% reported a malware infection in the past year that originated from a social networking site.

As a result of its findings, Webroot advised mobile internet users to be aware of their smartphone settings and turn the 'locate me' option off  – as well as not posting anything on the internet that "you wouldn't want the world to see."

Even with privacy settings enabled, Webroot says that social network sites themselves make mistakes and sometimes accidentally make information marked private available to anyone.

"As a rule of thumb, only post photos or messages that you wouldn't mind your boss, parent, or any stranger to see or read", says Webroot.

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