Smartphone users, like most people, don’t think about the security of their devices until they’ve been hacked
Survey reveals that hacked and insecure smartphones may trigger massive churn among disgruntled customers of Britain’s mobile providers
London, UK – December 3, 2012 – Crossbeam Systems, Inc. the leading provider of next-generation security platforms for high-performance networks, today released research revealing that compromised security – rather than high monthly fees – would be the biggest catalyst for triggering UK smartphone users to change mobile network providers.
The independent blind survey of 1,076 UK adult smartphone users and bill payers, carried out for Crossbeam by Opinion Matters, examined usage habits, the importance of mobile security and data services, purchasing considerations and what would motivate them to switch providers. The survey revealed that 75.6 per cent of those surveyed would change mobile providers if their current, operator-supplied smartphone was compromised by hackers, malware or other security failure. Women were the more likely to switch on security grounds, with 79 per cent of 648 women surveyed stating they would change networks if their smartphone fell victim to a security issue. Meanwhile, 70 per cent of 428 men surveyed would also change networks following a security incident.
This stark finding contradicts current mobile network provider activity and investment priorities, with most aggressively focusing on building ever faster high-speed network infrastructure and attractive data plans, but less on shoring up their security infrastructure and offering value-added security services and protection to end users and their devices.
“Smartphone users, like most people, don’t think about the security of their devices until they’ve been hacked. This may be misleading mobile network operators to focus less of their attention on customer security and underestimate the risk it creates,” said Peter Doggart, senior director of global marketing at Crossbeam. “There is an inadequate level of investment in security compared to other areas of the mobile network. This is a wake-up call for service providers, especially as we’re reaching a critical mass of smartphone users worldwide, not to mention a critical mass of data-enabled endpoints connecting to mobile phone networks including smartphones, tablets, eBook readers and more. The quantity of threats directed at mobile devices and their level of sophistication are on the rise.”
The survey found that in the event of a smartphone being hacked, it was access to their personal information, such as credit card numbers and passwords that users (53 per cent) were most worried about. Nearly 42 per cent were worried about losing their stored contacts and over a third (37 per cent) were worried about their private media (photos, videos, text messages etc) being accessed and copied.
An encouraging sign, over a third (35.7 per cent) of respondents were aware that their smartphone contained applications that stored or had access to financial information such as PayPal, retail apps with saved card payment information and mobile banking apps, and that third parties accessing these would be a concern.
While security is the main concern for mobile phone users in the current climate, with incidents such as voicemail and phone hacking by tabloid newspaper highlighting the potential frailties of basic mobile phone security measures, operational costs are also a great concern,. Some 63.7 per cent of respondents cited high monthly running costs as something that would drive them away from their current network provider, while only 9.4 per cent cited poor voice quality as a reason for leaving a network, illustrating the rapidly declining importance of voice telephony in day-to-day mobile phone use.
With so much focus of late on the small and often shrinking data allocations bundled with most smartphone plans, only 6.8 per cent of those surveyed cited data plans limits as a problem worth leaving over, with even fewer (6.3 per cent) concerned about slow download speeds, a particularly interesting admission just as operator EE has launched the UK’s first consumer 4G data service on the back of faster data rates. Over half of those surveyed (57.2 per cent) never exceed their capped data plan, while an additional 15.7 per cent of respondents are on so-called “unlimited” with no formal restriction on how much data a user can consumer in a single billing period.
Mobile network providers will be blamed for smartphone attacks, regardless of fault
According to survey results, 38 per cent of smartphone users would blame their mobile network provider if their device or service was hacked, and only 18 per cent would blame the actual manufacturer of the handset and its operating system. Almost 85 per cent of respondents don’t know if their mobile operator has any measures in place to secure their service or device.
Only a quarter of those surveyed claimed to have specific security countermeasures (antivirus software, firewalls, pin code authentication etc.) installed and operational on their smartphones.
“The results indicate that mobile network providers will be blamed, regardless of who’s at fault,” added Doggart. “This, more than anything, reveals an important opportunity for providers to be proactive about securing their networks in order to gain customers and minimise churn. As smartphone attacks become more prevalent, the service providers who anticipated the increased need for security and took the time to prepare will be in the best competitive position.”
Regional and age trends
The survey found a number of surprising trends across the UK, with particular changes in attitudes and priorities between the north and south of the country.
• Users in Wales were most likely to exceed their data plan over the course of a year, while the North West had the highest proportion of users with unlimited data plans.
• The South West had the highest percentage of users on the mainland that would be put off their current network by the high monthly charges, while almost 82 per cent of users in Northern Ireland would quit their current network on cost grounds.
• Users in the North East are most willing to accept responsibility for their phone being hacked, with 48.2 per cent of respondents in the region accepting that their phone being hacked would be their own fault, rather than it being down to the network operator or manufacturer.
• Users in Wales were most worried about their phone being hijacked to make unauthorised premium rate calls and texts, with 61.5 per cent of users surveyed in Wales highlighting this as a concern.
• In the Midlands, only 29 per cent of those surveyed were worried about financially sensitive applications being hacked on their smartphones, the lowest regional average in the UK.
Furthermore, the survey found that 16-24 year olds were most concerned about hackers accessing sensitive financial and password data from their phones (78.7 per cent), while the over 55s were least worried (39.2 per cent) about this kind of data breach.
The good news: better security will reduce customer churn
For mobile network providers looking to invest more in security, the good news is that while networks will be unlikely to pass on the costs directly to users in the form of specific security product or service levies, users will be significantly less likely to leave a current provider if visible security measures are implemented at both the device and network level.
Furthermore, Opinion Matters research carried out on behalf of Crossbeam in both the US and Germany revealed that users there would be prepared to pay additional fees for security services, with 59 and 65 per cent respectively prepared to pay additional service charges for named security services over and above what is built-in to their smartphone. In the UK, two thirds of users surveyed would not pay a mobile network provider an additional fee specifically for extra security services.
For more information and to download the full survey report, please visit http://www.crossbeam.com/opinion-matters-reg/.
For more information on how Crossbeam’s X-Series platform is securing mobile operator networks, please visit: http://www.crossbeam.com/solutions/securing-the-mobile-netwo....
Crossbeam Systems®, Inc. offers a proven approach to deploying network security that meets the extreme performance, scalability and reliability demands of large enterprises, service providers and government agencies. Its leading X-Series security platform offers an open, high-performance architecture that easily provisions and scales multiple best-in-class security applications to meet the ever-changing threat landscape. Companies rely on Crossbeam to intelligently manage risk, accelerate and maintain compliance, and protect their businesses from evolving threats. Crossbeam is headquartered in Boxborough, Mass., and has offices in Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. More information is available at http://www.crossbeam.com.
Crossbeam Systems and Crossbeam are registered trademarks of Crossbeam Systems, Inc. All other company, product or service names not owned by Crossbeam mentioned in this press release are the property of their respective owners.
Contact: Chris Green
Davies Murphy Group
+44 1256 807360
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