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.

User Comments: 3

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Rasta211 said:

Anyway, to modify these app permissions? I would love a way to disable some of these permissions these apps want access to.

MilwaukeeMike said:

I wish I knew more about what risks are out there. Giving out your personal information is such a vague term it's really meaningless to me without being defined. If you visit a website you have to give that site your IP address or the server won't know who to send the reply to. Is that 'personal information?'

When I use the Gas Buddy app, I want it to know my current location so I can see gas stations near me. Is my current location 'personal information?'

The guideline from that pictures says 'Don't store private info on your phone' Yeah, I know not to make a text file full of websites with logins and passwords, but does my phone number count? Should I be deleting texts frequently... should I know have my facebook App auto login when I open it? All this stuff is pretty vague.

Cnet's article recommends deleting personal info before recycling your phone. Thanks... I'll be sure to write that down in case my common sense is ever in jeopardy.

avoidz avoidz said:

Apps require a whole load of vague permissions to even install otherwise you can't try them. It's no wonder users just click Next. The process is over-complicated.

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