Consumers lack trust in mobile use

People increasingly using mobile devices for data-sensitive activities but lack trust in these processes and say one incident all it takes to stop them from embracing mobile tech, reveals study.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

More people are using mobile devices, applications, services and networks to perform critical personal and professional information while on the move, but a vast majority remain skeptical about the safety of these processes and hold Internet service providers responsible for safeguarding their data.

These were the findings of Juniper Networks' first annual Trusted Mobility Index, which was released Wednesday. It stated that while people are using mobile tech for work and personal transactions, just 15 percent of respondents indicated that they have a great deal of confidence in the security of their mobile devices and services.

Conversely, the vast majority of 63 percent "are at a crossroads" and do not know if they should trust that their mobile experiences in using these devices and services are secure, it stated. Juniper Networks commissioned this global survey of 4,037 mobile device users and IT decision-makers in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, China, and Japan in March this year.

In fact, all it takes is one incident for users to abandon these technologies altogether, the study showed. Some 78 percent said they would stop using online banking while 57 percent indicated they would stop refrain from sending private communications via their mobile devices. Another 54 percent would stop viewing medical records and 52 percent will not do any more work, it showed.

IT administrators' nightmare
Within the enterprise space, many employees are circumventing their employers' official mobile device policies, with 41 percent indicating that they use their personal devices for work without official permission.

This, in turn, presents a complex management issue for IT professionals, who view security breaches on these unsanctioned devices as their top concern. This was followed by the required knowledge to manage the different devices, which garnered 40 percent of votes, the study revealed.

The fears are justified too, with nearly one-third, or 30 percent, of all IT leaders reporting that their company has experience a security threat as a result of personal mobile devices accessing corporate data, it stated. China's example was more extreme, with 69 percent of IT leaders indicating that they have had such scares.

When these security scares or breaches occur, users tend to hold their service providers responsible for the safety of their data, with 63 percent indicating such sentiments. Another 38 percent voted for device manufacturers, while 34 percent lay it on the shoulders' of software security providers.

All stakeholders have part to play
Commenting on this perception that service providers should be responsible, Michael Greco, Asia-Pacific security director at Juniper Networks, told ZDNet Asia that service providers are typically the gatekeepers for people's mobile experience as they sell the data plans and where most consumers turn to for their mobile devices.

"Because they have that direct relationship with people, customers naturally go to them with questions and concerns, and as a result, consider them to be largely responsible for mobile security," he explained.

As such, these service providers have a clear opportunity to deliver competitive edge and meet customers' demands for increased trust in mobility, he pointed out, adding that the upkeep of mobile security will ultimately depend on all stakeholders.

These stakeholders include service providers, security vendors, mobile device makers, and the industry at large should all have a hand in protecting mobile devices, operating systems, and the apps and data from malware and other security threats, the security director urged.

"A combination of increased awareness, the right technology and education will help to create trust in mobility. At the end of the day, it is everyone's responsibility to work together to increase awareness and understanding of mobile security," Greco stated.

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