About 70 percent of smartphone owners said they considered their devices to be safe from cyber-crime, according to a report from the National Cyber-Security Alliance and security solutions vendor McAfee released Dec. 27. Even though the report was primarily consumer-oriented, the findings provide insight into how mobile users could impact the country's collective digital infrastructure, McAfee said.
The lack of security awareness is worrisome, considering that many employees are using their unprotected devices to access work email, read files and log in to enterprise applications. The employee may own the device, but the fact that corporate information may be stored without any data protection is a security risk.
The report is based on a survey conducted by research firm Zogby. Some 2,300 U.S. adults were surveyed in September 2011. Slightly more than 70 percent of respondents said they had never installed any form of security software or data protection applications on their device. Respondents said they considered their devices to be safe from data theft and other cyber-threats.
At the same time, new applications are constantly developed and released to meet a variety of user needs, and smartphone owners are downloading more of them. In the past six months, smartphone owners were most likely to download games (46 percent of the time), followed by social-networking applications (at 37 percent), according to the McAfee report.
A little over a quarter, or 26 percent, of the smartphone owners in the survey said they read the developer policy when downloading an application to determine how the application would use personal information, McAfee said. Almost half the respondents said they have removed an application or not installed one over security and safety concerns.
Mobile Web use has increased. About 44 percent of respondents use smartphones to access the Internet for shopping, surfing or socializing. About 75 percent of respondents said they access the Internet more frequently using smartphones than they did even a year ago, according to the survey.
Users should "get savvy" about the public WiFi hotspots they connect to so that they don't expose themselves to man-in-the-middle-attacks by cyber-criminals. Even if the user thinks the hotspot is safe, they should limit the type of application and Websites being accessed, according to McAfee.