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IT Departments Not Alone in Phone Security Worries

IT Departments Not Alone in Phone Security Worries
By Barry Levine

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To secure their data, 41 percent of phone owners have backed up their photos, contacts or other files to protect them in case their phone was inoperable, lost or stolen. Thirty-two percent have cleared the browsing or search history on their phones, and 19 percent have turned off location-tracking functionality.
 

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Mobile security and BYOD (bring your own device) policies are one of the top concerns for IT departments. Now, a new survey indicates that it is also a big issue for mobile-device users.

The report from the Pew Internet & American Life project, entitled Privacy and Data Management on Mobile Devices and released Wednesday, found that more than half of mobile application users have uninstalled or avoided specific apps because of concerns about how personal information was collected or shared by the app.

Discerning Downloaders

Eighty-eight percent of U.S. adults own cell phones, and 43 percent report that they have downloaded apps.

Of those app users, more than half have made the decision to not install a downloaded app, once they discovered the amount of personal information it would require. Thirty percent have uninstalled an app after they found out it was collecting information they didn't want to share.

The survey found that comparable levels of wary users existed across demographic groups, and included owners of either Apple or Android devices.

To secure their data, 41 percent of owners have backed up their photos, contacts or other files to protect them in case their phone was inoperable, lost or stolen. Thirty-two percent have cleared the browsing or search history on their phones, and 19 percent have turned off the location-tracking functionality because of a concern about how others -- either individuals or companies -- could use that info.

That wariness was not unfounded for one-third of the cell phone owners, who have had a lost or stolen phone. Twelve percent have had an occasion when someone else accessed information on their phone in a way that felt like an invasion of privacy. But those who have actually experienced a lost or stolen phone were no more likely than others to back up their contents.

Smartphone Owners

Younger users are more prone to have had their phone lost or stolen, with 45 percent of those aged 18 to 24 reporting such experiences, and 24 percent saying that personal information was accessed by someone in a privacy-invading fashion.

But owners of smartphones, which are specifically intended as app platforms, are much more likely than other cell phone owners to actively maintain their phones' security. For instance, 59 percent of smartphone owners back up their contents, while only 21 percent of regular cell phone owners do.

Similarly, 50 percent of smartphone owners have cleared their browsing or search history, compared with 14 percent of other cell phone owners. More than four times as many smartphone owners have turned off location tracking as have regular cell phone owners, 30 percent to 7 percent. However, the percentage who have reported that their device had been lost or stolen was about equal for both groups.

The survey was conducted through interviews to land-line and cell phones in March and April, with 1,954 adults aged 18 and older, in both English and Spanish. Pew said the margin for error was plus or minus 2.6 percent.
 

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Bob Hobson:

Posted: 2012-09-05 @ 7:35pm PT
Here's a good idea for protecting your valuables and keeping track of your iPhone, your iPad, your laptop and even your camera, keys, luggage and passport. Two years ago, I found MYSTUFFLOSTANDFOUND.com and obtained tracker tags for a free global lost and found service. I put them on all of my valuables.

It paid off in Rome. I left my passport at a restaurant at lunch. That afternoon, I received a text message from Okoban saying that my passport had been found. I did not even know it was missing.

I called the number in the text message and sure enough the cafe where we had stopped had the passport waiting for me. I was so grateful that I had an Okoban tag from MYSTUFFLOSTANDFOUND.com on my passport and that the cafe was kind enough to take the time to report the found passport tracker number online.

I can't imagine what would have happened if I didn't have the Okoban tracker tag. The passport could have been mailed back to the US Department of State or to my home, and then where would I be? Traveling through Europe with no passport or going through the hassle of getting a new one.



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