Wireless Consumers Aware of Cyberthreats and Know They Should Protect Themselves, Yet Many Don't

Also more apt to protect themselves against tangible threats (e.g., stolen device) than intangible threats (e.g., malware or hacking)

May 22, 2013, 12:45 ET from CTIA-The Wireless Association

LAS VEGAS, May 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On the second day of CTIA 2013™, CTIA-The Wireless Association® released its consumer survey on users' attitudes toward cybersecurity. Commissioned by CTIA, the Harris Interactive survey shows that 85 percent of consumers know their mobile devices are very or somewhat vulnerable, 74 percent say keeping their devices secure is their responsibility, but many don't take action.

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However, consumers are more likely to be aware and protect themselves against a tangible threat, such as having a device stolen, than intangible threat such as malware or hacking. The consumers whose devices were lost or stolen were more likely to use PINs or passwords than those who didn't have their devices lost or stolen (69 percent versus 47 percent), but no more likely to take any other proactive actions, such as remote locking, tracking and/or erasing apps (45 percent versus 41 percent).

Oddly, only one in five view smartphones as mini-computers, but more than half (53 percent) view cybersecurity the same way on mobile devices as they do on computers. Less than a third (31 percent) installed an anti-virus program on their smartphone, compared to 91 percent on a laptop. Thankfully, consumers are nearly as likely to run updates on their smartphones (66 percent) as on their laptops (69 percent).

Yet the survey clearly shows that there is a disconnect on cybersecurity between consumers awareness and their actions. However, consumers are beginning to take valuable steps to protecting themselves and their information. A majority of consumers (66 percent) review their wireless bills for suspicious activity at least once a month. Of those who use their mobile devices for online banking, more than half (56 percent for tablets and 55 percent for smartphones) use encryption or security software.

When asked what would prompt them to add a password or install anti-virus software to their personal tablets or smartphones, 35 percent said having a friend or family member suffering a security break; 33 percent said an app that reminds them to update anti-malware software or to change the PIN; 32 percent said a tutorial that prompts them; 27 percent said a friend's advice; 26 percent said advice from a device or network provider; and 23 percent said from the media stories that explains the benefits.

Of these same consumers surveyed, two thirds (67 percent) believe industry is better equipped to write cybersecurity regulations than the federal government.

"Cybersecurity is everyone's responsibility, from the consumer to the app creator to operating system to the device manufacturer to carriers and everyone in between. Through our Cybersecurity Working Group, our members are working hard and being vigilant to protect their customers, but it's great to see that end users recognize their vital role in preventing cyberthreats," said Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA. "Yet there's much to do, which is why CTIA and our members will continue to focus on consumer education so users know the wide variety of apps, tools and features available to help protect their information and their devices."

The survey was conducted in November 2012 with more than 1,500 adults who own a cellphone or smartphone. The CTIA Cybersecurity Consumer Research survey by Harris Interactive presentation is available at: http://ctia.it/18Lzlv3 (PDF).

CTIA-The Wireless Association® (www.ctia.org) is an international organization representing the wireless communications industry. Membership in the association includes wireless carriers and their suppliers, as well as providers and manufacturers of wireless data services and products. CTIA advocates on behalf of its members at all levels of government. The association also coordinates the industry's voluntary best practices and initiatives, and sponsors the industry's leading wireless tradeshows. CTIA was founded in 1984 and is based in Washington, D.C.

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SOURCE CTIA-The Wireless Association