Smartphone owners will blame mobile operators for data loss

9 Jun 2011

Mobile operators risk serious reputational and financial damage if data is lost, a study of 1,000 smartphone users by AdaptiveMobile has revealed.

The Dublin-headquartered firm interviewed 1,000 UK smartphone users last month and warned that smartphone users’ trust in mobile operators will hinge on those operators’ ability to protect their personal data and protect them from financial loss.

The study found that by far the biggest factor in building trust in a mobile operator is keeping personal details secure (73pc), more important than service quality/reliability (55pc) and accurate billing (43pc).

Users hold mobile network operators responsible for a variety of security issues, including unexpected items on their bills (80pc), SMS text phishing (69pc), mobile spam (66pc), malware and viruses (57pc) and rogue applications (40pc).

Users are more concerned about the data and information stored on their phones (83pc) and the possibility of identity theft (69pc) than they are about the handset itself (48pc).

However, users are leaving themselves exposed to mobile security risks – 50pc would open an SMS text message from someone they don’t know, 36pc would open an email on their mobile from someone they don’t know and 32pc save log-in information, such as passwords, on their devices.

Two-thirds (67pc) of mobile users would like more information from their mobile network operators on how to protect themselves from mobile security threats.

Cyber criminals shift focus from PC scams to mobile scams

“With mobile subscriptions hitting 5bn and global smartphone penetration now at 20pc, cyber criminals are shifting their focus away from traditional PC-based scams towards the mobile world,” said Gareth Maclachlan, COO, AdaptiveMobile.

“While there is evidence that smartphones have reduced levels of customer churn, how operators now respond to the increasingly sophisticated security landscape to safeguard their subscribers’ data will determine whether their customer relationships can continue to be characterised by trust and loyalty.”

The findings of the second AdaptiveMobile Global Security Insights in Mobile report provide a stark warning to network operators and the wider mobile ecosystem that their position as trusted brands no longer rests simply with competitive pricing or the newest handsets.

Mobile is no longer just about providing wireless phones and connectivity – as trusted service providers, customers look to operators to provide a host of value-added services and take it for granted that their devices are secure and their personal details are safeguarded. 

Maclachlan concludes: “As trusted providers, customers are looking to their mobile operator to lead the way with mobile security, providing guidance and education, as well as protecting their data and wallets.

“Mobile network operators can either rise to the occasion and be seen as industry leaders in mobile security or wait for others to lead the way and risk jeopardising not only their customers’ personal data but also their trust,” Maclachlan said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years