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US Smart Phone Users Largely Unaware Of Mobile Security Risks

AVG UK And Ireland : 17 February, 2011  (Technical Article)
Survey of Blackberry, Android and iPhone users reveals alarmingly low levels of awareness of security issues associated with the use of handheld computing devices

A new survey released by AVG Technologies and the Ponemon Institute revealed that more than a third of surveyed smartphone users are not aware of the increasing security risks associated with using their phones for financial purposes and to store personal data. The study also showed that just 29 percent of surveyed smartphone owners have considered downloading free or paid anti-virus software to help protect their most personal devices.

The survey targeted 734 US consumers over age-18 who own a smartphone such as an iPhone, Blackberry or Android device. Surveyed consumers also expressed a lack of awareness in respect to a number of key security issues faced by smartphone users, including:

    * Thirteen percent of surveyed smartphone users said location data had been unknowingly embedded on their handset enabling others to track their location. Only 21 percent of respondents were aware this could happen.

    * Six percent of respondents said that mobile applications had transmitted confidential payment information such as credit card details without the users’ knowledge or consent. Only 11 percent of respondents were aware this was possible.

    * Eight percent of surveyed smartphone users said their handset had been infected by malware called “diallerware” that enables criminals to make use of premium services or phone numbers resulting in unexpected monthly charges. Only 10 percent of respondents were aware of this risk.

“AVG and Ponemon Institute found that an alarmingly low percentage of surveyed smartphone users are aware of the security threats that exist today on many of the world’s most popular devices including Android handsets and the iPhone,” said J.R. Smith, CEO, AVG Technologies. “A clear opportunity exists to better educate consumers on the steps they can take to minimize their risk and exposure, such as downloading low cost and even free anti-virus products specifically geared to protect their mobile lifestyle and investment.”

"Our research suggests that surveyed smartphone users lack the awareness and knowledge to protect themselves from a rash of security vulnerabilities," said Dr Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute.

More than seven million Android user community members have installed AVG’s free mobile security application, ANTIVIRUSFree, on their handsets to date. According to AVG, more than 50 thousand people are now downloading the world’s most popular Android anti-virus application daily. Additionally, the company believes that this number will continue to grow as more consumers are made aware of mobile security risks and the simple steps that can be taken to prevent attacks from occurring.

AVG ANTIVIRUSFree enables users to scan, identify and remove viruses, check apps for malware before downloading from app stores and check website content, emails and SMS before downloading data or content. If a device protected with ANTIVIRUSFree is lost or stolen, it can be locked and wiped to protect valuable data, and located quickly using GPS functionality.

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