Consumers Getting Smarter About Mobile App Privacy

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Posted 5 years ago

A new study has shown that, although we live in an age where it is easier than ever to share information, consumers are cagey about what the share with mobile application developers.

The research, conducted by the Pew Internet Project surveyed 2,554 cell and smartphone users aged over 18 in the United States and revealed that a total of 43 per cent of mobile phone users are downloading and using apps on a regular basis. That figure is up 31 per cent on last year, but so is the amount of users that refuse new apps because of concerns over privacy – 54 per cent. Also telling was the stat that three in ten users have removed apps from their phones because of the data they collect.

The release of the study comes just a day after the McAfee Q2 Threat Report which showed a sharp rise in the number of malware cases over the last year. Mobile phone users being vigilant about what they download will certainly help to lower the number of virus infected phones.

“Outside of some modest demographic differences, app users of all stripes are equally engaged in these aspects of personal information management. Owners of both Android and iPhone devices are also equally likely to delete (or avoid entirely) cell phone apps due to concerns over their personal information,” the research finds.

Smartphone owners are more at risk of having their privacy breached than owners of cell phones. This is most likely due to the sheer number of applications that are available on Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows Phone, as well as the improved mobile Web browsing experience. At the same time, it is smartphone users that are more protective of their personal data and information that is shared with apps. Six out of ten smartphone users back up their data, while only three out of ten cell phone owners do the same.

Lost and Stolen

The Pew research also looked at lost and stolen phones, and found that around a third of mobile phone owners report at least one incident.

In terms of phone owners that report instances of a phone being lost or stolen, it was good news for RIM (they could with some good news from somewhere!); 45 per cent of BlackBerry owners were most likely to report their phone missing. BlackBerrys are still very popular for business users, with many keeping important work-related data on their handsets, however, only four per cent of owners reported lost data.

36 per cent of Android users were likely to report phones lost or stolen and surprisingly only 30 per cent of iPhone owners would do the same. With the iPhone’s being the most expensive handsets on the market, this figure is lower than expected.

With phones now storing vast amounts of information that can be hard to replace if lost, it is pleasing to see that more people are taking the necessary steps to ensure their privacy.

– Anthony Carter

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