Research by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International shows the relationship between users and their digital devices is often closer than best friends, with 29 per cent taking them to the bathroom and 25 per cent sharing secrets with their device they don’t want anyone else to know. However, this trust could be leaving users at risk, as devices can be hacked and private information exposed to the world.
The study found that the overwhelming majority of people (87 per cent) store important, confidential and sometimes irreplaceable information on their smartphones, including passwords, messages, photos, contacts, files and more. One in four says their device carries sensitive information they wouldn’t want anyone else to see.
These devices are carried and used everywhere, including at work (52 per cent), in a car (41 per cent), on public transport (39 per cent), in bed (58 per cent) and even in the bathroom (29 per cent).
Outside the home, these devices face potential risks that include damage, loss and theft, but also hacking by cyber-criminals intent on stealing data or even spying on the user. Devices that are used on open Wi-Fi networks are particularly vulnerable to attack. However, few people take action to reduce their risk. Our study found that just 26 per cent of users adapt their online activity when on an insecure public Wi-Fi network, despite the fact that hackers can easily intercept data and passwords. Only around half (47 per cent) takes advantage of the security features that come with the device, such as remote blocks or find-my-device capability.
The impact of not protecting the devices we carry with us can be far-reaching. According to the study, a quarter of those whose device had been lost or stolen discovered that personal or secret information had been leaked.
But it doesn’t follow that users are automatically more secure once at home. Here, they face different and sometimes greater risks, particularly in sensitive places such as bedrooms and bathrooms, when a hacked device could easily turn the webcam on the user.
“The bond of trust between users and their devices can lead them to forget about security. It’s hard to imagine that something we carry close to us at all times and turn to for everything, could ever become a threat. But it can, and does happen. A digital friend can become a digital frenemy. A failure to appreciate the potential risks and to protect our devices and information accordingly could mean the loss of confidential information, money and even our identities. The device camera that we use to look out onto the world can be hacked and used to look into our world instead. Security is simply not an optional extra,” said Victor Yablokov, Head of Mobile Product Line at Kaspersky Lab.
To ensure a digital friend doesn’t transform into a digital frenemy, Kaspersky Lab recommends that people always set strong passwords for devices and for their online accounts, install a trusted security solution such as Kaspersky Total Security – Multi-Device and take care when accessing websites and downloading apps, particularly over insecure Wi-Fi networks.
[su_box title=”About Kaspersky Lab” style=”noise” box_color=”#336588″]Kaspersky Lab is one of the world’s fastest-growing cybersecurity companies and the largest that is privately-owned. The company is ranked among the world’s top four vendors of security solutions for endpoint users (IDC, 2014). Since 1997 Kaspersky Lab has been an innovator in cybersecurity and provides effective digital security solutions and threat intelligence for large enterprises, SMBs and consumers. Kaspersky Lab is an international company, operating in almost 200 countries and territories across the globe, providing protection for over 400 million users worldwide.[/su_box]