Many parents don’t protect mobile devices

A third of people don’t bother to protect their mobile phone or tablet with a PIN or password. Similarly, parents are decidedly lax when it comes to letting their children interact with their mobile devices. This is according to a global survey of 3,000 consumers by McAfee and One Poll.

Child’s play

Almost half of respondents allow their children access to their mobile or tablet, while one in six admit that their child knows their PIN or password. Ten per cent are even happy to share their password to iTunes or other app purchasing sites to enable their kids to buy apps.

Today it is not uncommon to see children or even toddlers playing games on a parent’s smartphone or tablet. It’s an easy decision to hand over your device to a fractious child in the pub or on a train, but this can have unexpected consequences. Some of the possible repercussions hit the headlines recently, with the news that five year old Danny Kitchen racked up a £1,700 bill in just a few minutes on his parents’ iPad. Danny innocently ran up the debt by playing a game on the tablet which automatically billed his parents as he progressed.

In addition to lax parental controls, most mobile device users remain unaware of potential breaches to their privacy as smartphones and tablet devices become increasingly attractive to cybercriminals.

These statistics support the lack of security with consumer mobile devices:

  • 55% of people have shared their mobile or tablet PIN with others
  • More than one in ten use the same PIN across multiple devices and accounts
  • 15% of people store password details on their phone

Picking a PIN

When it comes to choosing a PIN, a majority of consumers in the UK and Germany stick with the first one they were ever given. In contrast, French and American respondents are more likely to opt for their lucky number. More than one in ten use the same PIN across multiple devices and accounts.

Passwords: public property?

Setting up a password or PIN is no guarantee that data will stay safe, with more than half (55%) of all respondents admitting that they have shared these details with others. Interestingly, this number is higher for tablets (61% have shared their PIN) than it is for mobiles (49% have shared their PIN), suggesting that consumers value the data on their phone more than that on their tablet.

Security mistakes

The survey highlights that consumers seem largely unconcerned about keeping data on their mobile devices safe. For example, only one in five respondents have backed up the data on their phone and tablet in case it’s stolen (such as photos and videos). In addition, more than one in ten (15%) save password information on their phone, most commonly in the ‘notes’ section, meaning that if their phone falls into the wrong hands they risk opening up all sorts of personal information such as bank details and online store logins.

“It’s clear that consumers are forgetting exactly how much valuable information is stored on their mobile or tablet,” commented Samani. “These devices can contain personal data like bank details and addresses, so it’s crucial that people take the same care they would with their wallet or computer. Failing to set a PIN or password is like leaving your front door open: Would you be surprised if you came home to find your PC missing?”

McAfee Mobile Security offers comprehensive protection against mobile device loss, viruses, and web threats. Providing protection against spyware and phishing, bad apps, spam and allows the user to lock, track and remotely wipe data if required with the ability to backup and restore personal information.

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