Further evidence has surfaced to suggest that mobile phone users are slow to catch on to the fact that handhelds containing sensitive information such as bank details could be used to send this data to malicious third parties. A recent study in the US by the Ponemon institute, sponsored by AVG, revealed that 89% of users were unaware that applications downloaded to Smartphones are capable of sending personal details without their knowledge. A further 91% were unaware of the presence of malware specifically designed to steal this personal information, and with 29% storing financial details such as credit card numbers, account details and login information on a handset it’s something that needs to be addressed.
Business users should take particular care, with almost a third unaware that they could be putting business information at risk, underlining previous concerns that users are only beginning to realise the importance of safeguarding data on mobiles, and of ensuring that sufficient security is installed to combat threats.
Chairman and founder of the Ponemon institute, Dr. Larry Ponemon, states "The findings of this study signal what could be an overlooked security risk for organisations created by employees' use of smartphones. Because consumers in our study report that they often use smartphones interchangeably for business and personal, organisations should make sure their security policies include guidelines for the appropriate use of smartphones that are used for company purposes."
Though business users are inherently higher risk, the advice is important for consumers in general, and with smartphones becoming ever more common as users experience the benefits of web-access on the move, malicious third parties are likely to up their game to take advantage of the increasing number of devices that can be attacked for personal gain.
Educating users on safe practices is obviously important, but many are now becoming aware of the fact that a security suite specifically designed for portable devices is as important as a similar product on a desktop or notebook computer. A combination of the two will offer peace of mind and help to ensure that users can benefit from these advantages without putting personal or business data at risk.