Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
A new survey released today by AVG Technologies and the Ponemon Institute revealed that more than a third of smartphone users are not aware of the increasing security risks associated with using their phones for financial purposes and to store personal data. The study also showed that just 29 percent of smartphone owners have considered downloading free or paid anti-virus software to help protect their most personal devices.

The survey targeted 734 U.S. consumers over age 18 who own a smartphone such as an iPhone, Blackberry or Android device. Consumers also expressed a lack of awareness in respect to a number of key security issues faced by smartphone users, including:

• Thirteen percent of smartphone users said location data had been unknowingly embedded on their handset enabling others to track their location. Only 21 percent of respondents were aware this could happen.

• Six percent of respondents said that mobile applications had transmitted confidential payment information such as credit card details without the user’s knowledge or consent. Only 11 percent of respondents were aware this was possible.

• Eight percent of smartphone users said their handset had been infected by malware called ‘diallerware’ that enables criminals to make use of premium services or phone numbers resulting in unexpected monthly charges. Only 10 percent of respondents were aware of this risk.

Lloyd Borrett, Security Evangelist for AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltd, said, “AVG and Ponemon Institute found that an alarmingly low percentage of smartphone users are aware of the security threats that exist today on many of the world’s most popular devices including Android handsets and the iPhone.

“A clear opportunity exists to better educate consumers on the steps they can take to minimise their risk and exposure, such as downloading low cost and even free anti-virus products specifically geared to protect their mobile lifestyle and investment.”

Dr Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said, "Our research suggests that smartphone users lack the awareness and knowledge to protect themselves from a rash of security vulnerabilities."

More than seven million Android smartphone, tablet and e-reader users have installed AVG’s free mobile security solution, ANTIVIRUSFree, on their devices to date. According to AVG, more than 50,000 people are now downloading the world’s most popular Android anti-virus solution daily. Additionally, the company believes that this number will continue to grow as more consumers are made aware of mobile security risks and the simple steps that can be taken to prevent attacks from occurring.

AVG ANTIVIRUSFree for Android devices enables users to scan, identify and remove viruses, check apps for malware before downloading from app stores and check web site content, emails and SMS before downloading data or content. If a device protected with ANTIVIRUSFree is lost or stolen, it can be locked and wiped to protect valuable data, and located quickly using GPS functionality.

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