Consumer Reports: Smartphone safety is lacking

By on May 1, 2013, 12:00 PM

Smartphones may be one of the most convenient electronic gadgets in this day and age but they also pose a huge security risk as highlighted by Consumer Reports in their annual State of the Net report. The publication found that nearly 40 percent of smartphone users don’t even take basic security measures like installing a password on their handset.

Based on data from the study, roughly 5.6 million Americans fell victim to malicious software that resulted in sending unauthorized text messages or even having their accounts accessed without their permission. Part of the problem, many believe, is that apps are too intrusive. Nearly 48 million Americans stopped installing an app because it asked for too many permissions.

Allowing a phone to track your location can also be a problem, the report found. One percent of respondents said they or someone in their household had been harassed by someone using location tracking to target their exact location. Seven percent of people said they wanted to turn off the service but didn’t know how to.

The report found that millions of parents feel their children need protection, something they say a smartphone can offer. As such, some five million preteens reportedly use smartphones – many of whom unknowingly disclose personal information when installing new apps, etc.

Interestingly enough, most people don’t hold themselves accountable for falling victim to malicious activity. Instead, a handset’s small screen and long privacy notices were often to blame, Consumer Reports said.

The publication interviewed more than 1,600 adult smartphone users and extrapolated the results nationally.

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