Brits ignore mobile security basics

Results from a survey of UK mobile phone users has found too many of us are playing fast and loose with sensitive data stored on our mobile phones.

More alarmingly though, it also found that the majority (99 per cent) of those questioned also used their mobiles for business use, creating a potentially weak security link to their employers' corporate systems.

Endpoint data protection security vendor Credant Technologies said 80 per cent of phone users they questioned stored information on their phones that could easily be used to steal their identities.

This included 16 per cent who saved their bank account details saved to their mobiles, and 24 per cent who saved their PIN numbers and passwords on their handsets. Another 11 per cent stored social security and Inland Revenue details.

And, despite the importance of this personal information, 40 per cent alarmingly failed to protect their devices with a password.

The findings related to mobile data security become all the more worrying when the link to corporate data security and protection is taken into account. More than a third (35 per cent) of those surveyed used their mobile phones to send and receive business emails, while 30 per cent admitted to using them as a business diary.

More than three quarters (77 per cent) stored business names and addresses on their phones, while 17 per cent downloaded corporate information, such as documents and spreadsheets. Even more (23 per cent) did the same with customer data.

Paul Huntingdon, public sector director at Credant Technologies, said: "Once you have access to someone's emails, passwords, birthdays, business diary, documents, children's names and pets you can easily masquerade as that person, sending out emails under their name, read all their corporate data and get to see every personal detail of their life."

He added that people were ignorant as to how easy a criminal could take over their life: "It is therefore imperative that all mobile phone users, even with the most basic handset, password protect and encrypt them."

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.