Canadians need more guidance on mobile security: IDC

Analyst firm International Data Corp., Canada reports that a growing number of mobile users in the country are becoming more cognizant of the need to secure their devices but are still not quite sure how to do so.

For instance, Canadians are increasingly logging into their favourite cloud services with their mobile devices, but are not taking the security precautions they ought to, the company said.

“The results are in, and they don’t look good: many Canadians are not practicing safe mobile security,” said Krista Napier, manager for mobility and consumer research at IDC Canada. “But its not because they don’t think it’s important, it’s because they are unsure how.”

She said recent threats such as the Heartbleed bug have once more cast the spotlight on cyber vulnerabilities and the need to help Canadians better understand how to protect themselves has become more important as mobile technologies continue to become a big part of our lives.

IDC Canada found that Canadian mobile users urgently need help to secure their devices. Only 13 per cent said they aren’t too concerned about security on their smartphone.

However, only 21 per cent or respondents said they are already doing everything they can to secure their devices. And 35 per cent said they would like to improve security but don’t know how.

Only 21 per cent claim to be using a different unique password for each of their online accounts, and this number falls to 11 per cent of younger users (ages 18-29). While only five percent are using the same password for all their online accounts, the vast majority (74 per cent) are using the same few passwords repeatedly.

Online passwords are not being changed often enough. A key strategy for dealing with the Heartbleed Bug was the recommendation to change online passwords, yet only 44 per cent had last changed an online password deliberately in the past month.

IDC found that Canadian smartphone users are slow to protect their devices:

  • 58 per cent had locked their device with a PIN number, pattern or fingerprint reader
  • 47 per cent had backed up the data stored in the device
  • 40 per cent of Android users and 8 per cent of iPhone users had installed an antivirus app on their device
  • 29 per cent had installed or activated a recovery app to track and wipe data from a stolen phone

Canadians are looking to their smartphone providers – operating system creators, manufacturers, and telecom service providers – for help in taking care of mobile security. When asked who the most responsible player in smartphone security is:

  • 30 per cent said primary responsibility belonged to the phone owner (with only 24 per cent of those aged 18-29 feeling this way)
  • 37 per cent said primary responsibility is shared between the phone owner and providers
  • 33 per cent said primary responsibility belonged to providers

“Mobile security is improved with a few simple steps for the end-user,” said Kevin Lonergan, infrastructure analyst for IDC. ”Updating your apps, OS and browsers when prompted is a start.”

For instance, he said, using a password manager such as LastPass or turning n device encryption and setting a log in code longer that the default four digits would help as well always being wary about public Wi-Fi.

“The list is a little larger, to be sure, but not nearly as complex as enterprise mobile security, which involves multiple layers from identity to configuration to vulnerability management,” he said. “Whether home user or large enterprise, be persistent – the bad guys certainly are.”

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Nestor Arellano
Nestor Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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