Most users have never installed security software on their device and feel safe using them, but cybercrime is actually on the rise. Mobile devices will be increasingly vulnerable to cybercrime until awareness spreads.

Mobile Internet usage is still increasing, but consumer security awareness has not kept in stride. A survey conducted by Zogby International, found that 72 percent of Americans have never installed data protection applications or security software on their smartphones in order to protect it against data loss or to protect it against viruses and malware. Sensitive data is also becoming more common on mobile devices - about 32.5 million Americans accessed banking information on such a device at the end of Q2 2011, 21 percent more than Q4 2010. Nearly one-fourth of consumers store computer or banking passwords on them, and over half of smartphone users do not use password protection. With all of this delicate information present, the situation could prove devastating for many - 113 mobile phones are lost every minute in the US.

A false sense of security prevails for smartphone users but cybercrime is on the rise

Mobile device users feel relatively safe despite the truth - 70 percent of smartphone owners say they feel their device is safe from hackers, malware and other types of cybercrime. Mobile cybercrime is still rare, but with the gaining popularity of these devices and the sensitive information on most of them, this will change quickly. Downloads are more popular, most added applications are games and social networking apps, but only 26 percent of consumers read all data usage policies, and 31 percent never do.  Around half of smartphone users decide against a particular app due to security or safety concerns, and of those, 71 percent based their concern on what data was collected or how it was being used.

Consumer security concerns should be businesses’ security concerns

While it is the consumer that could take most action against security concerns, the awareness has not reached the majority. Businesses can help with this, since all consumer safety issues are, ultimately, business issues. All tech users should consider their mobile as vulnerable as their personal computer, and businesses can include the NCSA’s STOP. THINK. CONNECT. guidelines in their social network’s page, news feed or app. STOP.THINK.CONNECT was an awareness campaign developed by a coalition of government, industry and non-profits against phishing and other cyber threats.

By Ivory King