Mobile devices are everywhere. Smartphones and tablets are a fundamental part of how so many of us live our lives these days, with estimates from Statista suggesting that the number of people using cell phones alone could reach 2.5 billion this year.
Whether we are turning to them to watch films and stream music during downtime or even preparing presentations and sending vital emails for work, they are part of almost everything we do.
A multi-purpose tool
Of course, one reason why smartphones have become so multi-purpose is thanks to the rise of apps. Further figures from Statista suggest more than two million apps were available on the Google Play Store in the first three months of 2019.
A study published by Activision Blizzard Media (ABM) and Newzoo earlier this year went on to put a spotlight on the types of apps that people were making most use of, with social media perhaps unsurprisingly topping the list. Other types which ranked well included shopping apps, games, music and video streaming, as well as sport.
However, one notable omission from the study’s list of most popular app types may well be the most important – security.
While mobile devices have become fantastic for consuming entertainment and playing games, we do so much life admin on them these days too. We’ve already touched upon work, but how about banking and other matters relating to personal data? Despite this, security was nowhere to be seen in the most used app types featured in the Newzoo and ABM study.
Such findings are quite surprising really. As Secure Thoughts outlines in its article on the best antivirus for iPhone, so many issues can arise such as hackers trying to access your data through an unprotected Wi-Fi connection or even through the use of spyware. However, the site adds that the issue can be tackled by ensuring screens are locked, app permissions are considered and VPNs are used.
But do people actually take these precautions? According to a Pew Research Center study in 2017, 28 percent of people do not have a lock screen on their phones, while some also claimed to not even undertake basic steps like updating their phone operating system or the apps on their device.
In the news
Such findings are undoubtedly a major concern and now certainly appears to be the time for mobile users to rethink any relaxed attitude they have had on security. The issue is rarely out of the news these days, with controversy and concerns related to a host of software and devices dominating headlines across 2019.
One notable issue to emerge in recent weeks was the suggestion that hackers had been installing surveillance software on phones by exploiting a vulnerability in WhatsApp. The issue was so significant that the software provider owned by Facebook called on all of its users to update their apps as a precaution.
Other recent high-profile incidents included reported issues related to Instagram, as well as data breaches which involved major companies such as Marriott and British Airways.
Big for business
The latter two issues are particularly notable, as they are prime examples as to why mobile device security is as much of a priority for businesses as it is for individuals.
According to the Mobile Security Index 2019 from Verizon, 84 per cent of businesses regard their mobile security measures as effective. However, despite this, the study found that 33 per cent of those companies polled had experienced a security issue related to a mobile device – a figure which marked an increase from 27 per cent 12 months earlier.
Furthermore, 62 per cent of those who suffered an issue described it as a major incident, with 67 per cent also admitting that they were less confident about the security of mobile assets when compared to other devices and systems. Perhaps most embarrassingly, 63 per cent admitted they were informed of the issue by a third party, such as law enforcement or even customers.
A fundamental issue
All of us carry out a range of important tasks on our Android and iPhone devices, yet the aforementioned ABM study has hinted that security simply does not appear to be on the radar for many people. This is undoubtedly worrying considering how easy it is to take simple steps to avoid any problems and the fact that security and privacy issues are probably in the spotlight more than ever before.
Whether you’re using mobile devices for work or simply for personal matters, it is clear that the issue of security simply cannot be ignored any longer. With both technology and the threats that it faces becoming increasingly more sophisticated, the importance of keeping up to date on security matters is only going to be even more vital in the months and years ahead.