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TheStreet Open House

Smartphone Owners Concerned And In The Dark About Mobile Security

Stocks in this article: NQ

SAN JOSE, Calif. and WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- In support of Data Privacy Day 2012, NQ Mobile, the international brand of NetQin Mobile, Inc., (NYSE: NQ), a leading provider of consumer-centric mobile security and productivity applications, and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), a non-profit public-private partnership focused on cybersecurity awareness and education for all digital citizens, today released the results of a new survey of consumer attitudes and behaviors towards mobile privacy and security.

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The online survey of 1,158 smartphone-owning consumers conducted in December 2011, showed that while almost three-fourths of American consumers are aware of – and concerned about – security threats to their smartphones, they aren't always taking active measures to protect their mobile lives. People are especially concerned about the personal information they keep on their phones, with nine out of ten aware that smartphones contain personal information, and 81% concerned about that fact. Interestingly, men tend to be more aware of the security threats and issues related to owning a smartphone, but women tend to be more concerned about threats and privacy issues.

When it comes to specific security threats, every potential threat evoked concern, but 78% of smartphone users are particularly concerned about their lost or stolen phone falling into the wrong hands and its contents being misused (78% concerned). Users were most concerned about losing their password data (67% concerned), but would be most willing to add security to protect the banking and other financial data on their phone. Users are least willing to add security to protect their photos and videos.

On the emerging issue of location data tracking:

  • Users are about evenly split on being concerned about protecting the privacy of their location when using their phones.
  • Half (50%) report that they know how to turn off or set permissions for location tracking, though just 38% know how to disable geotagging, which is the storage of location based data, in the form of Latitude and Longitude inside of images.
  • Almost all phone users (95%) believe that at least one entity can track their location while their phone is on, though which entities users believe can do this varies widely.
  • A very strong majority (87%) believe that carriers can track their location when their phone is on, followed by hackers (57%) and legitimate apps (54%). One-fourth (24%) believe that data aggregators can track their location.

While 70% of smartphone users said they had some type of security or security software on their phone, just half of smartphone users actually could identify what type of security they have. More than half (58%) of smartphone users report they don't know enough about mobile security to decide whether they need it or not, and a majority of those who do not have any security features/software on their smartphones don't have them because of a lack of awareness or complacency – and this is not surprising, given that just 7% of smartphone users were offered information about the need for security for their phone at the time of purchase.

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