People love their digital devices, yet they constantly put them at risk with dangerous behaviour that compromises security.
New research by Kaspersky Lab reveals a contradiction in the way people treat their data — although they are aware of the threat from cybercriminals, their actions show they’re failing to protect their data properly, with around half not even using basic security measures such as passwords or PINs.
The study found that, globally, an overwhelming majority of people recognise there are security threats to their information, with three quarters (73%) agreeing that cybercriminals and hackers pose a high risk to their data, and two-thirds saying malware (65%) is a high-risk threat. However, there exists a discrepancy between the concerns people have about the safety of their data, and the measures they take (or rather don’t take) to protect the data they love.
Worryingly, only around half protect their devices with a password, with 53% using a password for their smartphones, 42% for their tablets and 48% for their computers. Worse still, one-in-ten people don’t do anything to protect their data at all (19% on tablets, 10% on computers and 11% on smartphones). And although the threat of cybercriminals and malware is considered by many to be a high risk to their data, only about a third have a general security solution on their devices.
Moreover, there is a disconnect between user perception – and the reality – of reckless behaviour, and its impact upon data risk. Less than half (47%) of people admit that their own inattentiveness can put their data safety at high risk, yet when asked how they’ve lost data in the past, in one-in-five (19%) cases, users admitted they have actually accidentally deleted it themselves. This is second only to people losing data due to their device being damaged (23%).
When it comes to the data people love, photos and videos are seen by many as the most valuable and irreplaceable forms of data stored on digital devices. But these are most likely to be lost from smartphones, with 44% of people saying this has happened to them in the past. 37% of computer users and 30% of tablet users have experienced the same.
Andrei Mochola, head of Consumer Business at Kaspersky Lab comments: “Precious data that we save on the digital devices we use every day is not getting the protection it deserves. With so much trust placed in devices to safeguard our memories and information, it is important that the security measures that individuals rely on are able to adapt to the scenario and keep them safe — no matter what the device or where they use it. Reliance on multiple devices to store what matters most, calls for a more robust and reliable approach. Only then can all points of vulnerability be covered and any gaps in user knowledge or unintentional data mishaps be taken care of.”
To help safeguard valuable data on their devices, users can take a number of simple precautions. By backing up data to the cloud, it can be easily retrieved from anywhere at any time, should it disappear from the device. Encrypting sensitive information and password protecting devices and apps will also make data access a lot harder, should a device fall into the wrong hands. Password managers can help create and store secure and unique passwords.
Users should also activate VPN connections to protect their data while in public Wi-Fi networks. For added peace of mind, sensitive data can also be wiped remotely using remote administration tools, if the device is lost or stolen.