At least half of the mobile devices around the globe are at risk from cybercrime and malicious threats, due to a lack of adequate protection.
New research, in support of Europol’s Mobile Malware Awareness Campaign, part of the European Cyber Security Month, was undertaken by Kaspersky Lab to better understand how aware people are about the threats they face online and how they protect themselves from these threats.
Out of the 12 000 respondents surveyed across 21 countries we found that in South Africa only 63% of tablets and 64% of smartphones have a security solution installed. People tend to protect their computers (92%) more than their mobile devices, a misjudgment when we consider how much important and personal information is carried on mobile devices today.
The research suggests that users are unaware of the need to protect their mobile devices with a security solution. While 69% think that their desktops and laptops definitely need IT security software, only 56% think the same about smartphones and tablets. In fact, 18% of local users aren’t even fully aware of mobile malware.
Some – but arguably too few – people do attempt to protect their mobile devices.
However, users are largely limiting this protection to passwords – locally 84% have a password on their computers and 54% have protected their smartphones this way. This is concerning because whilst passwords can protect the physical device from being used by unwanted others, they offer no protection from malicious malware, fraud or spear phishing attacks, which can strike when unwitting users have their devices in their own hands.
Only 51% of consumers have protected their mobile devices with both a password and a security solution.
The findings are concerning considering the proliferation of online dangers that mobile devices, and their users, are exposed to. Many of these dangers are simply a consequence of people’s activities online and the fact that they store and share data via their mobile devices every day.
The research has found that among those who faced cyberthreats 18% have had their Android smartphones infected, and 8% have had their data intercepted on their Android smartphone.
Victor Yablokov, head of mobile product line at Kaspersky Lab, says: “Mobile devices are an important part of our lives. Not only do they hold important information, they are our gateway to online banking, emails, photo sharing, communicating with loved ones and more. Not protecting these devices is not an option if we want to protect what matters to us most.
“But with only half of mobiles being protected effectively globally, there is a lot more work to be done before we are safe from cyber threats. At Kaspersky Lab, we want to help people become more aware of the dangers they are exposing themselves to. By becoming more cyber-savvy, they can then be more prepared for the online world and the dangers it brings.”