Smartphone users not mindful of security, study says

Oct 3, 2013 | News

Smartphone and tablet users might not be aware of the risks associated with online banking from their devices.

Smartphone and tablet users might not be aware of the risks associated with online banking from their devices.

By Therese Jastrzebski

Smartphone and tablet users may want to think twice before using their devices to make their next purchase.

Symantec, a security software company, released their 2013 report and found that smartphone and tablet users are not taking proper security precautions while using their devices.

Almost half of smartphone users don’t use any precautions when using smartphones and tablets, the report found. Some of these basic precautions include using passwords, security software or backing up files.

There are two types of wireless networks that offer different types of security to smartphone and tablet users, said Bernie Monette, Program Coordinator of Web Development at Humber.

“When your computer broadcasts your connection to the internet, if you’re using no security, someone else could intercept that connection and basically read it,” Monette said. “But if you’re using some sort of security, there’s WPA and WPA2, these are encrypted connections, so if you can intercept them, you can’t read them.”

The report found that 24 per cent of Canadian smartphone users access their bank accounts from public or unsecure wireless networks.

Monette told Humber News he wouldn’t personally use his smartphone for online banking, or to pay wirelessly at businesses like Starbucks that offer these payment methods, because the actual security they offer is unknown.

Hackers tend to focus on individuals, as they are easier to access data from then banks, said Monette.

“Hackers focus on you, so they look for ways to find your logins, they look over your shoulder, they phone you up and pretend to be someone else,” said Monette.

“Today’s cybercriminals are using more sophisticated attacks, such as ransomware and spear-phishing, which yield them more money per attack than ever before,” said Stephen Trilling, Chief Technology Officer for Symantec in a press release this week.

Phishing scams are when hackers send you an email that seems to come from somewhere like PayPal or your bank, said Monette.

People get tempted

“What they are trying to do is tempt you to give away your PayPal login or your bank login, and people do,” he said.

On smartphones, even the operating systems themselves aren’t totally secure, said Monette.

“Even the operating systems itself, like iOS or Android, I’m sure they are as secure as they can be, but it’s really reactive right? They build it, they make it secure, but somebody else finds a hole, and then they fill that hole, then somebody else finds a new hole,” said Monette.

Old fashioned payment methods might be safer, he said.

“The convenience is nice, but it comes at too high of a price.”