Security Market Segment LS
Tuesday, 12 June 2012 16:08

Aussie consumers not sufficiently aware of online, mobile security needs


Backed by recent research about smartphone or mobile device usage by Australians which shows that one in six have lost, misplaced or had their smartphone stolen in the last year, PayPal is urging more consumer education and awareness about online and mobile security.

As part of National Cyber Security Awareness week this week, PayPal released the results of a survey of the 12 million Australian smartphone users who browse and shop on the go, which revealed that many Australians have not even set up a first line of defence for their smartphone, and that:

•    Less than half (49%) do not have a passcode on their mobile device

•    Only 30 per cent remotely wiped their data after losing their smartphone and less than half (43%) changed their online passwords, and

•    One in three (36%) stay logged into mobile applications

The research conducted by Pure Profile for PayPal, revealed that, despite an increasing number of Australians using their smartphones to perform the same functions as their computers and wallets, the vast majority do not take the same precautions to protect their information on their mobiles.

In light of the research, PayPal and the Centre for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra (CIS) called for Australians to stay as vigilant with their smartphones as they would their personal computers and wallets.

PayPal’s director of mobile security and risk, Prashanth Ranganathan, said there was a need for consumer education as mobile payments becomes increasingly prevalent, and as consumers increasingly used smartphones to store a substantial amount of personal data, from bank statements to calendars to social networking profiles.

“Australia is among one of the largest mobile markets in terms of smartphone penetration. Australian consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to shop and pay while on the go but are unaware of the size of the digital footprint stored in their smartphones. By transacting through PayPal, consumers are provisioned with an additional layer of protection by ensuring their personal financial information is never stored on the physical device and never shared with businesses they are transacting with.”

Ranganathan cautioned that, while Australians were keen to take advantage of the mobile convenience of smartphone technology, the research revealed that they were not protecting themselves “beyond the home”, and he pointed to the fact that smartphone owners were three times more likely to be more mindful of the security of their wallets than of their smartphones and one in three stayed logged into mobile applications.  

According to Alastair MacGibbon, director at CIS, with over 12 million Australian smartphone users expected in 2012, criminals were now making moves to target mobile users. “Australians must stay alert and ensure they protect themselves across all their devices. As the technology evolves and more Australians use their smartphone devices to fulfill a wider range of functions, consumers need to keep an eye out for fraudulent encounters and be educated about ways to safeguard their smartphones from cybercrime.”

To help users safeguard their smartphones, PayPal and CIS have developed some top tips to better protect them while transacting on the devices:

•    Set up your first line of defence – Enable a unique passcode so that your smartphone automatically locks when you’re not using it

•    Know who you’re transacting with – Use reputable mobile sites and applications. Look out for trust cues like the padlock symbol before entering your financial information

•    Watch out for duplicate applications – Cyber criminals take advantage of trusted brands by creating free applications that mimic the company’s official application. If you’re unsure, always download the application directly from the company’s website

•    Know how you’re connected – Use a secure network to transact online and watch out for people looking over your shoulder while using free Wi-Fi networks

•    Keep track of what you’re sharing – Be aware of the permissions your applications request from you. Review permission requests carefully and only share information that you are comfortable sharing

•    Don’t store sensitive data on your device – never store sensitive financial data on your smartphone

 And, if your smartphone is lost, stolen or misplaced, remember to:

•    Remotely wipe your data – Enable this feature at purchase so that you can use it to your benefit if you lose your device

•    Immediately change your passwords – Change your online passwords for the mobile apps and websites that you automatically sign into, such as email, calendars, social networking sites, app stores, messengers, video sites

•    Get help – Contact your provider or manufacturer and enquire about mobile tracking or whether they can disable your phone on your behalf

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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