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Mobile security tops consumers’ fears


McAfee has  announced findings from new research that reveals that almost three out of four mobile consumers (72%) are concerned about the security of today’s and tomorrow’s mobile services, such as mobile multimedia downloads, mobile payments and mobile ticketing.

The McAfee Mobile Security Report 2008 discusses in detail users’ experiences of traditional and emerging mobile services and their awareness and perceptions of mobile security issues.
Other key findings revealed show that:
* 86% of users are worried about security risks posed to their mobile handset such as fraudulent bill increases or information loss or theft;
* Over one-third (34%) of global mobile users question the general safety of mobile devices and services;
* At least 79% of consumers are knowingly using unprotected devices,with an additional 15% unsure of security levels; AND
* More than half of subscribers (59%) expect mobile operators to take primary responsibility for protecting mobile devices and services.
While confidence levels for traditional voice and messaging services remain comparatively high, more than half of all respondents (55%) expressed concerns about mobile payments and banking services. Likewise, over 40% were worried about mobile multimedia downloads and mobile vouchers and ticketing.
Frequent mobile internet surfers showed levels of concern 80% higher than those who have never used such services.
Overall, more than 72% of users expressed concerns regarding the safety of using emerging mobile services, with concern rates rising with market maturity.
Mobile security incidents may not yet rival the scale and scope of PC threats but they are increasing in volume and sophistication. Over one in ten (14%) of global mobile users have already been exposed to mobile virus incidents, either directly or they know someone who has been infected. This awareness strongly impacts user confidence with 80% worried about the possibility of a mobile virus infecting their friends and colleagues.
Mobile messaging is also growing in prevalence. Over a third of subscribers (38.6%) claim to typically receive “annoying” spam messages at least once a month. In Japan this rises to over a quarter (26.1%) getting spammed daily.
Despite growing concerns, at least 79% of consumers are knowingly using unprotected devices, with an additional 15% unsure of security levels. Almost 60% of mobile users expect mobile operators to take primary responsibility for protecting their mobile devices and services and over half (56%) believe security features should be pre-installed on the handset at the time of purchase and provided free of charge.
“Concerns about specific mobile security risks or the loss of credibility in the reliability of services is a crucial issue for operators, particularly in mature markets. Yet, this research clearly highlights that consumer fears are growing in tandem with increased mobile functionality, jeopardizing the success of new revenue-generating services and increased operator ARPU,” says Chris van Niekerk, regional director: Africa at McAfee.
“Retaining consumer confidence will prove critical in ensuring life value and listening to the end user is becoming ever more important in creating innovative and intuitive services which subscribers will want, and trust, to use and are prepared to pay for.”
McAfee Mobile Security Risk Management is a modular three-prong approach to enable mobile operators designed to help operators create a secure framework on which to build future services.  The approach allows mobile operators to understand and mitigate security risks to their business, to protect and give peace of mind to customers, and to avoid the negative impact on their brand and business from malicious attacks.
The research was conducted by Datamonitor among 2 000 mobile consumers with responses spread evenly across the US, UK and Japan.