It's been said that the decision to speed or text message while driving is a matter of the driver conducting a risk-reward assessment, whereas the reward for exceeding the speed limit, namely reaching the destination quicker, outweighs the risks, including the increased chance of an accident or receiving a ticket. It seems that the same is true for mobile security solutions.
However, in the latter case, users of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets don't view the risk of malware infection or information loss essentially worth the effort needed to protect against such threats. That was recently discovered by researchers for Confident Technologies, a provider of image-based authentication solutions for Web pages and mobile applications.
The firm's in-depth report revealed that many mobile users willingly ignore data protection measures because they are viewed as too tedious. That led researchers to conclude that owners of smartphones and tablets prefer convenience over protecting possibly confidential information.
"However, people's lax security habits have made the mobile platform the new frontier for hackers, malware and fraud," Confident Technologies CEO Curtis Staker said. "The onerous process of typing complicated passwords on a smartphone for every app or online account means that people instead choose to sacrifice security for convenience, leaving themselves and in many cases their businesses at risk of data theft and fraud."
Overall, more than half of respondents to Confident's poll said they willingly do not use passwords or PIN numbers to lock their smartphones or tablets. Of these, 44 percent said utilizing a password is "too cumbersome." Also, another 30 percent of respondents said they "are not worried about the risk" of data loss or a data breach. That goes back to the risk-reward assessments that drivers also go through.
Researchers emphasize that mobile security risks are in fact real and can be extremely damaging for victims. In a recent interview with Macworld, one data security expert said there has been a 2,000 percent increase in the amount of malware targeting mobile devices running the Android operating system this year. That figure will grow to 6,000 percent during the next six months, according to the report.
"For any device, whether mobile or not, there’s always the threat of scams that are platform independent, meaning that every device is vulnerable to these," the Macworld report stated.
Still, users don't appear to be buying the mobile malware hype. Going back to the Confident Technologies report, the poll also found that smartphone and tablet owners also scoff at required security measures, such as the username and passwords required to access mobile applications.
Sixty-six percent of respondents said they try to remain logged into mobile applications at all times just to avoid the authentication process. Just 33 percent of respondents said they make a point to log into an app each time it's used.
Another 60 percent of respondents acknowledged they would like to see a form of authentication that is easier than leveraging a username and password.
Interestingly enough, a separate report from AdaptiveMobile revealed that many mobile users said they value data security more so than call quality. According to a recent poll of U.S. mobile phone owners, 68 percent of respondents said their carrier's most important responsibility is to keep confidential information protected. At 52 percent, just more than half said call quality was most important. Fifty-two percent of respondents also admitted to experiencing a mobile threat during the past year.