Smartphone owners say security is a concern, but few take precautions

While smartphone owners say they are concerned about security threats, few actually do anything to secure their devices according to new data from The NPD Group. Focusing on owners of Apple’s iPhone and various Android phones, NPD’s “Emerging Technology Trends: Mobile Security” report found that security concerns are common among smartphone users. For example, 43% of users are concerned with unknowingly having their activities monitored and 42% are worried about hackers accessing personal files or information on their devices. Despite these concerns, however, only 30% of Android phone owners and just 6% of iPhone owners have installed security apps on their phones. NPD suggests that smartphone owners are unaware of the security options available for their devices, and among those who do know about apps and tools that are available, they are reluctant to pay for mobile security solutions. NPD’s full press release follows below.

Despite Significant Security Concerns, Few Smartphone Owners Have Actually Done Anything About It

According to The NPD Group’s “Emerging Technology Trends: Mobile Security” report, only 6 percent of iPhone users have installed security software on their devices.

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., September 21, 2011 — According to a new report from The NPD Group, a leading market research company, smartphone users are concerned about security threats to their phones; however, very few of them have taken any action to assuage those concerns. Nearly 40 percent of all smartphone users are concerned about threats such as activity monitoring, hacking, and credit-card security, and viruses, while more than one-third are worried about harmful apps, malicious emails, and the potential for user-location tracking.

Among smartphone users, 82 percent have no security products installed on their phones; however, the percentage of users addressing this concern varies by platform, according to NPD’s “Emerging Technology Trends: Mobile Security” report. Although iPhone and Android smartphone owners share similar security concerns, 30 percent of Android smartphone owners have installed security products on their phones, compared to just 6 percent of iPhone owners.

“Even though iPhone users are less concerned than Android users about device security, they are still clearly worried,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD. “Their biggest concerns were much more likely to be fears that their iPhone would be stolen or damaged, than any unwanted or harmful activities.”

Security Concern |    All Smartphones |    Android |    iPhone

Having credit card information stolen |    43% |    46% |    38%

Unknowingly having my activities monitored |    43% |    45% |    42%

Hackers accessing my files or personal information |    42% |    46% |    37%

Device theft/loss |    41% |    42% |    45%

Acquiring viruses/spyware |    40% |    43% |    37%

Downloading apps that might harm my device |    38% |    43% |    34%

Receiving Unwanted or dangerous spam email or text messages |    38% |    39% |    38%

Unwanted personal location tracking |    37% |    38% |    34%

“While smartphone owners are worried about security threats, they are also thoroughly confused about what to do about them,” Baker said.  In fact NPD’s report shows that 83 percent of all smartphone owners who have not installed security would be motivated to do so if they were to encounter harmful virus, spam, or other event; however, more than 25 percent of smartphone owners (and 35 percent of iPhone owners) don’t know how to acquire security software for their devices.

Approximately one quarter of all smartphone owners who have no security felt security products were too expensive; yet, among those owners with security products installed, 75 percent paid nothing, and the mean price paid was less than $3. “Consumers are both unaware of security for their phones and reluctant to pay for it when they are aware,” Baker said.

Information in NPD’s “Emerging Technology Trends: Mobile Security” report is based on online surveys fielded in July 2011 to a representative sample of 1,085 panelists from NPD’s online panel. Results were balanced to represent the U.S. adult population.

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