Protecting your phone

Protecting your phone

News reaches us from Juniper Research via Gomo News that only 5% of smartphones and tablets are “protected”. In this case the definition of “protected” appears to be that a device has security software installed. What caught our eye was also a comment from Gomo News expressing surprise about this figure, with the increased publicity around the risks of mobile phone “malware, fraud and device theft”.

This raises some interesting issues. Whilst it may be shocking that as little as 5% of all smartphones have security software installed, for many the shock will be that as many as 5% have protected their devices. Having asked people in the close vicinity (many of whom are far more mobile savvy than much of the population) it is clear that the 5% figure is much higher than our straw poll.

The second interesting point is the bundling together of risks from “malware, fraud and device theft”. The reality is the threats from each of these demons can be considerably different. You can download malware but not device theft. Fraud is easier to achieve with a simple telephone call or text message than with the creation of an app. In this sense, users need more than “protection” for their device.

Which brings into focus the final point. As Gomo News points out, there are a number of free software services that enable you to protect your device, but from what? Free software will not protect a user from a Wangiri fraud. Whilst it may be able to ensure that data on a device is not accessible if a phone is stolen, it cannot ensure that the device is not stolen in the first place.

Anti-virus and anti-malware software for smartphone is a good thing – particularly when it is free and effective. However, users need to understand the wider threats associated with fraud, theft and criminal activity in telecommunications. Mobile fraud will not be beaten by protecting devices alone. A wider awareness of the threats and risks of all criminal activity in telecommunications is needed to reduce this risk.