Norton says that consumers are taking to sleeping with their precious shiny gadgets, but are failing to protect their devices and themselves in the most basic digital ways.
The security firm has published its annual research study The Norton Report (.pptx) -- commissioned by Symantec -- which examines consumers' online behaviors, attitudes and security habits, as well as the dangers and financial cost of cybercrime. After surveying 13,022 online adults across 24 countries, the antivirus provider found that despite the fact that 63 percent of those surveyed own smartphones and 30 percent own tablets, nearly one-in-two, 48 percent, don't take basic precautions such as using passwords, having security software or backing up files on their mobile device.
In addition, as people are now constantly connected to digital networks, the traditional divide between work and personal life is blurry. The report says that nearly half of respondents, 49 percent, reported using their personal devices -- PCs, smartphones, laptops and tablets -- to check up on work. This means that while less than half of us protect our devices, those who use the gadgets to access corporate data and networks -- potentially through Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) schemes -- may be placing companies at risk.
As we become constantly plugged into the matrix, some of us are taking care of our basic security needs, but cybercrime is becoming more sophisticated as a result. Instead of phishing emails informing us we've won the Spanish lottery or our long-lost Nigerian uncle wants to send us millions of dollars, attacks disguise themselves as our banks, PayPal, eBay or contacts.
Stephen Trilling, Chief Technology Officer at Symantec said:
"Today's cybercriminals are using more sophisticated attacks, such as ransomware and spear-phishing, which yield them more money per attack than ever before. With the findings from the Norton Report that 49 percent of consumers use their personal mobile device for both work and play, this creates entirely new security risks for enterprises as cybercriminals have the potential to access even more valuable information."
Norton estimates that while the number of adults falling for such schemes has decreased, the total global direct cost of cybercrime is now $113 billion; up from $110 billion last year, and the average cost per victim of cybercrime is $298; increasing from up $197 in 2012.
"If this was a test, mobile consumers would be failing," said Marian Merritt, Internet Safety Advocate at Symantec. "While consumers are protecting their computers, there is a general lack of awareness to safeguard their smartphones and tablets. It's as if they have alarm systems for their homes, but they're leaving their cars unlocked with the windows wide open."