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Users Lax on Mobile Security: Survey

Many Users Fail to Propertly Protect Their Mobile Devices: Report

The use of mobile devices has increased significantly over the past years, yet many users fail to properly protect their smartphones and tablets, a recent report from Kaspersky Lab reveals.

According to the study (PDF), which had nearly 12,000 respondents from 27 countries, users are increasingly concerned about online threats, and many are looking install security software on their devices. Furthermore, the report reveals that consumers use more connected devices than before, with an average of 8 connected devices per household.

The report found that 57 percent of survey respondents use a smartphone to access the Internet, which marks an increase from the 45 percent of consumers doing the same in 2012, while tablets were used by only 29 percent of users, down from 32.4 percent last year.  

The study also revealed that more and more users are increasingly concerned about online threats, with 57 percent of respondents saying they were worried about their own and their family’s online activity. This marks a small increase over the 54 percent of users saying the same in 2013 and 2014.

Despite these concerns, many users are still failing to properly protect their mobile devices, and many have yet to install some type of security software on smartphones and tablets. While protections may be lacking on their mobile devices, 93 percent of respondents said they did install a security application on their desktop computers running Microsoft Windows, and 91 percent did the same on their laptops.

The report found that only 32 percent of iPad users had security software installed on their devices, and 26 percent of iPhone users said the same. For those owning Android tablets, 65 percent said they had security software installed, while 60 percent of Android smartphone owners have security software installed. 83 percent of Windows-based tablet owners and 44 percent Windows Phone owners reported having security software installed.

According to the report, widespread misperceptions and confusion caused many users to not install antivirus or Internet security software. 16 percent of respondents said they didn’t install such an application because they thought it would slow the device, 11 percent said they consider security software too expensive, while 8 percent of them believe the applications are not effective.

12 percent of the respondents, however, said that they did not know what software to install, nor where they could get it from. Also worrying is the fact that only 58 percent of the respondents said they understand how to use Internet security software, although the number of users saying the same in 2013 was higher, at 65 percent.

The security awareness of mobile users is also increasing, with 66 percent of respondents saying they heard of a mobile device hit by a virus, although only 54 percent said the same in 2013. Moreover, only 34 percent of users assume that mobile devices come with pre-installed security, down from 43 percent believing the same two years ago.

“Connected devices – particularly smartphones – are increasingly used to manage online activities and store essential and private information, making these devices attractive to thieves and cyber-attackers. As we continue to store more of our lives on multiple devices, it is vital that we take their security seriously. It is a shame that so many of today’s consumers say they struggle to find an appropriate Internet security solution,” Elena Kharchenko, Head of Consumer Product Management, Kaspersky Lab, said.

Security protection is as important for mobile devices as it is for desktop computers in today’s always-connected, mobile-driven world, and the large number of threats that have been discovered this year alone proves that. Cybercriminals behind the XcodeGhost compiler malware have updated their code to target iOS 9 devices, FireEye revealed in early November, while Symantec recently warned of a piece of Android malware that uses firewall rules to block security apps, in addition to stealing user information.

Related: Ignoring Mobile Security Doesn't Make it Go Away

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