Brits Lack Basic Smartphone Security, Says ONS

According to the Office of National Statistics, British internet users are worryingly complacent about their security online, with a large number having no security software installed on their smartphones.

In its 2018 survey on internet access in Great Britain, 26% of smartphone users said they had no security software installed.

A further 24% didn’t know if they had security software on their phones or not.

The survey also indicates that young people are more protective of their personal data than older people. When asked if they had prevented an app from accessing personal information, 65% of those aged 16-24 said yes. In the group aged 65 and over, only 31% said they had declined permission in this way.

Photo by Radovan on Unsplash

A further 3% said that they did not know it was possible to refuse to give these permissions to an app.

The survey found that just 2% of respondents had lost data due to viruses or malware. But clearly there are signs that this could increase if security software is not installed.

Does Your Phone Need Security Software?

As smartphones have become more advanced, they have started to become our primary devices for using the internet. Bigger screens, faster processors, and better apps have all contributed to this change.

For hackers, the smartphone also presents a different set of opportunities. Research suggests that phishing is the risk on mobile devices, and users are three times more likely to fall for a scam on their phone rather than their desktop.

Often, we skip through apps and websites so quickly that we don’t think to check whether the links we are clicking are genuine. Many of us also just aren’t tuned in to mobile threats like we are on our computers.

Android viruses and malware are particularly prevalent; more than 3 million viruses or malware variants were discovered last year alone.

How to Protect Against Threats On a Smartphone

The ONS survey found that nine out of ten households now have internet access in the UK. Among households with children, the ONS found that 100% have internet access at home.

Despite a relatively low level of data loss from malicious attacks, the lack of awareness around mobile security suggests that there are a lot of unprotected mobile users ready to be hacked.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

On your Android tablet or smartphone, always ensure that you have security software installed, and ensure it’s a reputable anti-virus and anti-malware product. There are both free and paid options; if you don’t want to pay just now, that’s fine. Basic is better than nothing.

Although iOS devices are less susceptible to threats, 3% of mobile malware does attack iPhones and iPads, so you should still install a security application for peace of mind. If nothing else, it could help you to retrieve your phone if it is lost or stolen in the future.