The national survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults underscores how deeply entrenched in Americanís daily lives mobile devices have become. For example, two-thirds of the people surveyed told us that their smartphone is never further than one room away, and one in ten said they keep their phone handy everywhere they go, with the possible exception of the bathroom.
In addition, the survey highlighted the growing importance of mobile devices as a tool for shopping, with one in four respondents reporting that they complete at least one transaction per day on their smartphone, while one in six say they make at least 25 percent of all their purchases on their smartphone.
"Mobile devices present unique security advantages including location information and biometric authentication. According to our survey, more than half of mobile consumers are comfortable using biometrics to authenticate themselves on mobile devices. Many users do not realize that location information can help detect and prevent fraudulent transactions. For example, if a transaction takes place in San Francisco and another one in Dallas a few minutes later, we can investigate for suspicious activity," said Andy Steingruebl, Director of Ecosystem Security, PayPal.
The survey also uncovered a general sense of unease about the security of financial information on mobile devices if lost or stolen and made it clear that many people arenít taking the steps necessary to use their mobile devices safely.
For example, nearly 70 percent of Americans believe that storing payment information on their smartphone is unsafe. The survey also found that 63 percent of people do not have a clear idea about what financial information is stored on their smartphones and more than half donít lock their mobile device with a PIN.
The NCSA and PayPal offer the following tips:
Always activate a PIN or lock function for your mobile device: A PIN is the simplest and most important thing you can do to ensure security on your mobile device especially if it is lost or stolen.
Automate software updates: Many software programs automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates on your mobile device if thatís an available option.
Use common sense when downloading apps: Unknown or repackaged apps can contain malware designed to steal financial information from a mobile device, so always purchase or download apps from companies that you trust and check reviews. When installing new applications, review permissions and decide whether youíre comfortable granting the access that an application asks for.
Enable "Find My Device": If your phone, carrier or antivirus software supports the "find my device" feature, itís a good idea to activate it. This functionality will help you find your device if itís lost or stolen, and lock it or wipe it clean remotely if you need to.
Backup your device: It is critical to backup your device on a regular basis. Some operating systems offer this option as an automated service. If you ever need to exercise the remote wipe feature mentioned above, you will be glad you have a current backup that you can recover to a new device.
The survey found that many people are open to new approaches to mobile security that would increase their safety. In particular, there are strong indications that many people are willing to take advantage of biometric technology to protect themselves against mobile security threats. The survey found that Americans are overwhelmingly comfortable replacing passwords with newer security technologies such as fingerprint identification (53 percent) and retinal scans (45 percent).