Mobile device users fail to take basic steps to protect themselves, survey finds

Of those who said that they did not lock their smartphone or mobile device, 44% said that using a password was “too cumbersome” and 30% said they were “not worried about the risk”, a survey of more than 100 smartphone and tablet users by Confident Technologies found.

“When it comes to mobile devices, the users take the stance of convenience over security. Not only is that dangerous for the consumer, it is dangerous for business application providers as well”, said Bill Goldbach, executive vice president at Confident.

“Users generally aren’t locking their devices, so they are not taking steps to use some of the built-in security features of the phone to either put in a PIN, password, or [other methods] to lock and unlock the phone”, Goldbach told Infosecurity.

While nearly 90% of respondents reported that their smartphones and tablets were personal devices not provided by their employer, more than 65% said that they used their mobile devices to access work email or the company computer network.

The survey found that half of respondents used banking, financial, or stock trading apps on their smartphones or tablets; 35% had mobile applications connected to online shopping or auction accounts; 77% accessed social networking applications such as Facebook or LinkedIn with their mobile device; and almost all respondents said that they had email applications running on their mobile device.

The Confident survey revealed that a majority of respondents leave mobile applications such as email, shopping apps and social networking accounts continuously logged-in, if they can; only 33% said they make a point of logging into an application every time they use it; and two-thirds said they leave applications perpetually logged in unless they are required by the application to log in every time.

“There are about 160,000 cell phones that are lost or stolen everyday. Many people retrieve them, but during that time it is not in their possession, if they have these applications open, they are inviting fraud and malicious activity”, Goldbach said.

People surveyed reported frustration when it comes to typing usernames and passwords on the soft keyboards of smartphones and tablets. More than 30% reported that they “often forget or mistype on the small keyboards”, and nearly 60% of respondents stated that they “wish there was an easier form of authentication for mobile applications”.

“There aren’t too many developers who are helping the end user or consumer by providing a level of ease of use. They are still making it difficult to type in a long user name, type in a more secure user name and password, versus what we are doing today, in terms of providing an image-based solution for applications for mobile providers to develop. We think it is important for business to helping the consumers to participate in security instead of letting them go their weak ways”, Goldbach concluded.

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