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TheStreet Open House

Sprint + Lookout: Survey Reveals Consumers Exhibit Risky Privacy Behaviors Despite Valuing Their Privacy On Mobile Devices

Consumers rely on smartphones and tablets more than ever before. From staying in touch with family and friends to keeping up-to-date on corporate email, mobile devices have become our most personal computers. Mobile phones were once used simply as a means to communicate, but today they carry peoples’ most sensitive information, like banking credentials, photos and contacts. Lookout and Sprint (NYSE: S) today announced the results of a national Harris survey 1 revealing smartphone consumers’ mobile behaviors, habits and concerns about privacy.

The findings show wireless users have a striking attachment to mobile devices and a concern about the exposure of their personal information. Sixty-three percent of people surveyed check their smartphone at least once an hour (9 percent check every five minutes), and 33 percent of people would fear the contents of their mobile phone being projected on a big screen. While consumers recognize mobile security is an important issue, people still don’t take the right precautions; only 44 percent of people surveyed set a PIN or a passcode on their phone.

Attachments to Mobile Phones

The majority of Americans surveyed with smartphones said they typically don’t go an hour without checking their phones. Unsurprisingly, the amount of time between phone-checks goes down among the youngest age groups and increased markedly as age goes up.

  • Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of people would be upset if they left home without their smartphone.
  • When people are without their devices, they miss texting (29 percent) and calling (26 percent) most.
  • 97 percent of mobile phone owners report checking their phones occasionally while in the presence of family and friends.

Concern about access to personal data

Smartphones hold a treasure trove of personal data, and people want to keep that data private. In another independent survey, 15 percent of those surveyed say they’ve caught someone in the act of snooping, with a spouse (38 percent), friend (24 percent), child (18 percent), co-worker (11 percent), other (14 percent) as the culprit. 2 However, nearly 1 in 5 (19 percent) mobile phone owners admit to looking in someone else's phone without their permission 1.

People are most concerned about someone seeing the following information without their permission on their mobile phone:

  • Personally identifiable information (42 percent)
  • Bank and financial information (33 percent)
  • Contacts information (29 percent)
  • Text messages (23 percent)

Consumers exhibit risky behaviors when using their mobile phone

Despite being deeply attached to their mobile phones, Americans surveyed exhibit risky behavior when using their mobile phone.

  • 26 percent of people are not aware of the risks of clicking on unfamiliar links while browsing on mobile.
  • 18 percent store password information on their phones.

Tips for Smarter Smartphone Usage

With smartphones being critical to everyday life, there are a few basic steps that Sprint and Lookout recommend:

  • Set a PIN or passcode. It’s the first line of defense to keep private information private if a phone is lost or stolen.
  • Don’t lose it. Tuck away a smartphone in a zipped pocket or bag when walking in public places.
  • Practice safe surfing. Take extra care when browsing websites or clicking on links from a mobile device – the small screen size makes it especially tricky to determine a safe link from a fraudulent one.
  • Be cautious when downloading apps. To minimize the risk of picking up a malicious application, only download from official apps stores, read app reviews, and check the developer reputation before installation.
  • Keep it safe. Download an app like  Lookout to help locate a lost phone, or lock & wipe the data if it cannot be recovered.

These insights come on the heels of a partnership between Sprint and Lookout to bring mobile security to more consumers. Lookout is now offered on select Android™-powered Sprint devices, in store and online, making mobile security more accessible than ever. Download the Lookout app for Android-powered smartphones from Google Play or directly from your Sprint Android device.

About the survey

This survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Lookout and Sprint among 1,003 Americans, 18 and older who own a mobile phone between Aug. 12 and 19, 2013. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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