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News

Low Awareness Levels On Emerging Mobile Threats

BullGuard : 14 June, 2011  (Technical Article)
BullGuard survey reveals surprising lack of awareness amongst smartphone users of the threats associated with the devices

A recent survey by internet security experts BullGuard showed a lack of insight into the rising number of malicious threats affecting mobile phones, with 53% of users claiming that they are unaware of security software for Smartphones. A further 21% argued that such protection was unnecessary, and 42% admitted it “hadn’t crossed their mind”.


It’s a shocking revelation in the light of a string of attacks and security issues that have surrounded Smartphones over the last six months, and with recent reports claiming a 250% rise in mobile malware during this time.


The key issue seems to be a general lack of awareness about both the rising malware threat to Smartphones and the potential for these devices to be just as, if not more susceptible to attack than a desktop or notebook computer.

BullGuard’s survey also indicated that 49% of users have never been concerned about accessing the internet from a mobile phone, and 32% hadn’t thought about the potential risk. This doesn’t sit well amongst statistics indicating that 55% of users were unaware that a mobile could get infected by a virus, yet 50% admitted to going online regularly.


“It’s not really surprising that consumers haven’t responded to this emerging threat” says Claus Villumsen, mobile security expert with BullGuard. “People want to buy products that “just work”, and not concern themselves with jumping through more hoops once a device is up and running. The key thing to remember here is that Smartphones are effectively miniature computers and so are just as vulnerable.”


Further figures from the survey certainly seem to suggest that lack of awareness is a key issue. 88% admit that they “don’t completely trust the internet”, yet this is exactly what they’re accessing from a phone. To back this up, 11% of respondents believed it was safer to access the internet from a mobile phone, 31% claimed it was just as safe as a computer, and 26% weren’t sure.


“Mobile users need to be educated about the increasing potential risk involved in using a Smartphone to access the internet, send emails and perform financial transactions” says Villumsen. “Our survey indicated that 88% of users claim not to be storing any sensitive data on their phone, but we suspect that in many cases this sort of data may be saved to the device without their knowledge”.


Using web browsers, logging into services such as Facebook or Twitter, accessing marketplace accounts from a mobile or checking a bank balance are all common activities that could involve passwords and login information being saved to a mobile for fast access later, and of course other potentially less sensitive data such as emails, contacts, text messages and user files are also accessible.


The message here seems quite clear, and though the sheer number of threats that can affect Smartphones isn’t nearly as high as those intended for computers, this is rising exponentially as malicious users see this new platform, coupled with a general lack of awareness, as an ideal opportunity to steal private data.


Mobile security software isn’t just about protecting a phone from malicious code either – the greater potential for loss or theft of a mobile phone could mean that a thief could gain access to data directly. With modern security suites also offering comprehensive anti-theft protection, allowing users to lock, locate, and wipe a phone remotely, you’ll find that plenty of tools are already available to combat modern threats.

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