Mobile phone users oblivious to data threats

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Mobile phone users oblivious to data threats

Most mobile phone users do not take data security seriously.

Consumers fail to realise how much sensitive information they carry in their mobile phones, according to a university study.

Professor Steve Furnell from Plymouth University said that focus groups carried out on the campus showed a worrying trend of users not protecting their data on mobile devices because they did not see any threat.

Responses from the study included phrases such as: 'I'm not sure that anybody would want to steal my information. I don't perceive myself to be that important.'

"But we went through the discussion and asked what would you do if this fell into other people's hands? Would you really want someone else having access to your contact list? Do you store passwords for services on your device?" said Professor Furnell.

"And we found that the answers were 'Yes I do' and 'No I wouldn't want other people having this' and so their categorisation of what they considered to be sensitive data, and whether their device actually held it, had evolved."

The study found that only 66 per cent of people used a Pin to protect their device, although 45 per cent of those did not bother to change the default number.

Professor Furnell said that the technology exists to protect users, but that they simply did not make use of it.

"You can have stronger protection even now on many types of mobile devices, for example Windows Mobile which will allow you to go beyond the simple four-digit key and use a strong alphanumeric password," he said.

"But because it would be significantly inconvenient, in many cases, although this facility exists, it is not used."
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