Fewer than one in three parents (29%) are aware that their child’s smartphone could be a target for cybercriminals, according to independent research commissioned by computer security company ESET. 36% of parents surveyed did not think smartphones could be infected by viruses, while 34% weren’t sure.
The findings suggest parents are not keeping up with the pace of technological development, and are unaware that any internet-enabled device – whether a smartphone or a PC – is potentially vulnerable to viruses, hacking, ID theft and data loss.
The survey also showed that children are becoming more technologically independent at a young age. Parents said on average their children own a mobile phone and have their own email account by the time they are ten years old; and will have opened a social networking account such as Facebook, Bebo or Twitter, by the time they are eleven years old.
Quinton Watts, security expert at ESET UK, comments: “Hackers and threats alike are becoming more advanced, and the advent of smart devices has created a new avenue for hackers to do their ‘dirty work’. Nevertheless, there are precautions that can be taken. Just as parents will protect their children in the physical world, they need to do the same in the cyber world and ensure that all of their children’s devices are as secure as possible. This will help minimise risk and will give parents peace of mind.”
It’s encouraging that the research showed that parents do take precautions to protect their home PC: 95% of parents said they have anti-virus protection on their computers). But they must recognise that smartphones and tablets are just as vulnerable and take steps to protect them too.
The survey of 1,005 UK parents was commissioned by ESET UK and carried out by Vision Critical in June 2012.