Poor security awareness leaves UK consumers vulnerable to cyber-crime

News by Danielle Correa

Poor security awareness and an uncontrollable demand for mobile apps are placing UK consumer identities and devices at risk.

UK consumer's fast and carefree approach to mobile apps is leaving them vulnerable to cyber-criminals looking to infect mobile devices and steal information from oblivious victims according to new research from RiskIQ.

The mobile apps survey sourced answers from 1016 UK adults aged 18 and above. It found that nearly half (45 percent) of UK adults do not scrutinise app details while 60 percent never or only occasionally review the privacy policy and permissions prior to downloading.

With 3.8 million cyber-crime instances reported in the UK last year, cyber-criminals are taking advantage of poor security awareness. The survey found that 45 percent have clicked on an advertisement promoting a mobile app, movie or game followed by 37 percent who have clicked on a link in an email, website or social media fee to download an app, movie or game.

On more than one occasion, 12 percent have mistakenly installed an app believing that it came from a trusted source only to later find out this was not the case.

Millennials are guilty of clicking before thinking to inspect, with 14 percent having mistakenly installed an app they believe came from a trusted source. Seniors, in the age group of 60+, have never or rarely done so.

Thirteen percent of millennials have jailbroken their phones and cite the freedom to download and install what they want as the biggest factor (73 percent). Almost none of the seniors had done this, yet 10 percent of Gen Xers and three percent of baby boomers have.

Compared to Gen Xers (51 percent), baby boomers (38 percent) and seniors (25 percent), 56 percent of millennials have clicked on an ad on their mobile device promoting a mobile app, movie or game.

A quarter of women (26 percent) admitted they never read a mobile app's data and privacy policy or review permissions, compared to 17 percent of men.

Women are also less likely to install additional security software on their mobile phones (39 percent) compared to 53 percent of males.

Women (28 percent) are less likely to consider security features when buying a new phone as opposed to 39 percent of men.

“The vastness of the app store ecosystem provides the perfect place for malicious actors to hide, luring consumers into believing their apps are official or their brand affiliation is legitimate. With the number of blacklisted apps doubling between 2015 and 2016, it's time for consumers to up their ‘security awareness' game,” said Colin Verrall, VP EMEA, RiskIQ.

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