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AdaptiveMobile Finds US Smartphone Users Don’t Care if You Can Hear Them Now

September 2011 by Marc Jacob

AdaptiveMobile announced results from a survey examining mobile-threat awareness among 2000 US smartphone users and the expectations consumers are placing upon mobile operators to provide a safe mobile experience. The report finds that for the first time in history, data security is more important to US cell phone users than call quality, with 68% citing keeping information secure as the most important carrier function vs. 52% for service quality / reliability.

The survey also finds that respondents are aware of mobile threats, with 52% of subscribers experiencing a mobile threat over the past year. For example, 1 in 3 US smartphone users reported receiving mobile spam, and 1 in 7 indicated that they were exposed to SMS text phishing. Even with these high rates of exposure, only a small number of subscribers use security software (23%), and three-quarters of these use the software only because it is free. The subscribers take it for granted that their personal and financial data is protected by the carrier, leaving the carrier as the first line of defense in a smartphone environment that is growing more open, complex, dynamic and crowded each day.

Despite the high levels of mobile threat experiences and awareness, US smartphone users are still placing themselves at risk. For example, more than 30% would open an SMS from an unknown sender and more than 40% save information such as passwords to their phone. These same users are consistent in their certainty that not only does security responsibility lie with the carrier, but they will switch providers if their security is not maintained: with 90% saying they would change carriers if an unexpected item appeared on their bill, 85% changing carriers if they are exposed to malware / viruses, and 71% leaving the carrier due to spam.

Among the findings:

Subscribers see security as the mobile operator’s responsibility

Subscribers hold mobile network operators responsible for a variety of security issues ranging from unexpected items on their bill (74%), SMS text phishing (55%), unsolicited messages / spam (54%), malware / viruses (46%) and rogue applications (36%) Subscribers are more concerned about the data and information stored on their phone (86%) or the possibility of identity theft (69%) than they are about the handset itself (45%) Subscribers don’t plan to take responsibility for protection themselves, with only 1 in 5 smartphone users currently using security software (23%), and three quarters of these only using software because it is free

Mobile operators stand to lose the most, including their currently held trusted service provider status

For US smartphone users, the biggest eroder of trust is personal data being compromised (54%) followed by unauthorized charges (44%) At present in the US, subscribers trust mobile network operators with their personal details and data (45%) more than mobile handset manufacturers (41%), Government (38%) and social networks (26%) The impact of failing to secure subscriber trust affects more than just the individual subscriber with two in three subscribers (66%) saying that if they have a negative experience with their mobile network operator they tend to tell other people

Smartphone users have experienced mobile threats and still do really risky things

More than half of subscribers (52%) have experienced at least one security incident in the last 12 months, the most common being spam, received by more than 1 in 3 subscribers (37%). 1 in 7 (16%) has seen unexpected items on their mobile bill and a similar number (15%) have been exposed to SMS text phishing.

One in three subscribers (34%) would open an SMS text message and 28% would open an email message from someone they don’t know on their mobile. Furthermore, 40% would save log-in information such as passwords to their mobile and more than three quarters (77%) download apps to their phone Six percent of US users report having been infected with a mobile virus in the last twelve months, well over the actual rates of under 1%. Subscribers are starting to suspect virus activity where none exists, adding to customer care costs for the carrier.

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