Smartphone users choose convenience over security

In a revealing survey of smartphone and tablet users, the majority polled admit to not password protecting their mobile devices despite keeping them logged in to sensitive online accounts and applications, leaving them open to account compromise, fraud and data theft, announced Confident Technologies.

The survey also revealed a troubling trend for businesses that opens up the potential for data theft:

  • While nearly 90 percent of respondents reported that their smartphones and tablets are personal devices not provided by their employer
  • More than 65 percent reported that they use their mobile devices to access work email or the company computer network.

When asked about password protecting their mobile devices:

  • More than half of respondents said they do not use a password or PIN to lock their smartphone or tablet
  • 44 percent who do not lock their mobile devices said that using a password is “too cumbersome”
  • 30 percent who do not lock their mobile devices said they “are not worried about the risk”.

Many respondents are indeed exposing themselves to great risk by connecting those unlocked mobile devices to sensitive online accounts and applications:

  • 50 percent of respondents use banking, financial or stock trading apps on their smartphones or tablets
  • 35 percent have applications connected to online shopping or auction accounts
  • 77 percent said they use social networking applications such as Facebook or LinkedIn
  • 97 percent reported that they have email applications running on their mobile device.

Additionally, the survey revealed that a majority of respondents leave mobile applications such as email, shopping apps and social networking accounts continuously logged-in, if they can:

  • Only 33 percent said they make a point of logging into an application every time they use it
  • Two thirds said they try to leave applications perpetually logged in unless they are required by the application to log in every time.

These poor security habits have likely come about because logging in to applications and accounts on mobile devices is so difficult. People surveyed overwhelmingly reported frustration when it comes to typing usernames and passwords on the soft keyboards of smartphones and tablets.

The inconvenience can be even greater for people who have “strong” passwords consisting of letters, numbers and symbols, as that often requires switching back and forth between multiple soft keyboards on the display screen.

The complete survey is available here (registration required).