January 1, 2012

Studies Highlight Smartphone, Tablet Security Woes

Less than 5% of all smartphones and tablets in the U.S. are protected by security software, and 7 out of 10 users believe the devices were safe from data theft or other cybercrime, making them prime targets for hackers, according to multiple reports released last week.

One study, conducted by Juniper Research and cited in a December 30 article by Reuters' Tarmo Virki, discovered that less than one out of every 20 smartphones have security programs installed.

Virki says that mobile phones are being targeted more and more by cyber criminals, and Juniper representatives say that they expect the market for mobile security software to top $3.6 billion within the next five year.

Likewise, the Reuters report cites a second study by financial consulting firm Deloitte in which technology, media, and telecommunications companies claimed that they believed that data stored on staff members' mobile devices would be their "biggest security headache" during the new year.

"Mobile security has become a major concern since smartphone transactions are now of much higher value, including corporate data access, managing personal finances and online purchases," Steven Nathasingh, chief of American research firm Vaxa Inc., told Virki on Friday.

"With more and more mobile devices being hijacked without the owner's knowledge, the risk of identity theft and personal financial loss is intensifying," added Cryptzone Chief Executive Peter Davin. "Employees should be made aware that using a personal device to access corporate data may also have personal implications“¦ For example if the device is lost, stolen or clandestinely taken over, the organization may decide to wipe data."

On Thursday, eWeek writer Fahmida Y. Rashid reported on a similar study, compiled by the National Cyber-Security Alliance and security software provider McAfee. That study revealed that 70% of all smartphone users believed that their devices were safe from hackers and other cybercriminal attacks.

McAfee also reported that a Consumer Reports study found that nearly a quarter of them said that they stored computer and/or banking passwords on their smartphones or other mobile devices.

"Taking extra precautions to protect smart phones from virus attacks and other threats is not common practice for U.S. consumers as most feel their devices are safe enough," McAfee told Rashid.


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