Exploring the dangers of a mobile lifestyle

We live in an increasingly digital world, and rely on the devices we use to store our more or less valuable information and to perform critical tasks.

In fact, according to a global Kaspersky Lab survey, 98 percent of us use our mobile phones, tablets, laptops and / or desktop computers to conduct financial operations, 74 percent regularly use e-wallets and payment systems, and the great majority use the devices to do online shopping, use social media, do online banking, store data online, use instant messaging, and so on.

But while on one hand many of these users are aware of some of the risks tied with the everyday use of these devices, other dangers are less thought about.

For example, 69 percent of the survey-takers are aware that the personal data on their devices requires additional security, and 73 percent are updating the software on them regularly.

Meanwhile, one third of them take no security measures when using public Wi-Fi networks, and
over 40 percent trust websites and their banks to keep their passwords secure and to return any of their money that might get stolen by cyber crooks.

On this last point reality is a bit different, as 41 percent of respondents who were victims of a financial attack were unable to get all their money back.

The average money loss suffered due to such an attack was $74 per person. Users who don’t back up their data suffer an even bigger loss: on average, the loss of media collection following a malicious attack or device failure will cost the user $418. It’s interesting to note here that Russians and Chinese users are especially bad at performing regular backups or any backup at all.

Privacy concerns top the list of users’ worries. 69 percent are anxious about their personal data being stolen and used by other people, and they are especially worried about the data they share with companies and government agencies.

Cyberwarfare and state-sponsored attacks are, on the other hand, not something that concerns many users. In fact, the great majority of them have never heard of things like zero-day vulnerabilities, botnets, Mini Flame or the Zeus Trojan (click on the screenshot to enlarge it):

“Although 31% of respondents said they were worried about cyberwarfare and the damage it could cause, relatively little is known about the kinds of weaponry used,” the survey results say. “There also seems to be little concern over trends like “hacktivism’, the fact that some cyberattacks have the indirect backing of governments, or attacks on software, video game and media companies such as Adobe, Microsoft, Oracle, Sony, and The New York Times.”

Users have a pretty accurate view of which platforms are the most vulnerable (Windows, Java and Android), but some more than one third of the respondents still believe that Macs are immune to cyberthreats.

When it comes to passwords, some 40 percent of the respondents expectedly said they had just one password, or at best a small collection, for all of their accounts. Only 26 percent use a different password for each account.

When it comes to mobile devices, most users used it to work with and store sensitive data, but also few recognize the dangers of using free public Wi-Fi access points, less than 25 percent use anti-theft software for mobile devices, and just 40 percent of smartphone owners and 42 percent of Android tablet owners use security solutions for these devices.

The report also includes statistics on actual cyber attacks and threats the respondents have personally faced and either deflected or fell victim to.

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