Your smartphone really isn't as secure as you think it is

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More and more people are trusting their smartphones and other mobile devices to be a secure way to access the internet and store vital data, despite often failing to ensure such devices are protected, new research has said.

A report from McAfee has found that although smartphones are increasingly replacing PCs or laptops as a preferred device, especially among younger users, there is often a lack of proper security protection in place.

It added that younger users were often unaware that security protections were needed for mobile devices, even when it came to basic tools such as using a password.

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Smartphone security

Surveying both children (including teenagers)and parents, McAfee found a stark difference in the level of awareness when it came to mobile device protection, as most children (59%) said they thought a new phone was more secure than a new computer, whereas parents were slightly more doubtful (49%).

Worryingly, only 41% of children used a password to protect their mobile device, compared to 56% of parents. This had led to many users facing security threats, with one in 10 parents reporting their children had experienced a financial information leak, and 15% of children saying they'd experienced an attempt to steal their online account. 

McAfee highlighted a number of potentially harmful threats targeting users of all ages, including mobile smishing attacks that use SMS messages to spread phishing lures, and malicious code and malware lurking inside gaming cheat apps and codes.

“Meaningful protection is a personal right for consumers, whether they are connected families or individuals,” said McAfee Executive Vice President, Chief Product and Revenue Officer, Gagan Singh. 

“The common thread linking these two research offerings are that consumers value protection of their data, privacy, and identity. As our use of mobile devices rapidly increases, we must remember that a mobile device is a connected device, just like a computer. McAfee’s world-class Labs Research team works tirelessly to identify and protect consumers from new and emerging threats that impact all ages and connected devices, across the globe.”

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.