SA hides deep secrets on smartphones - survey

Mobile apps. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Mobile apps. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town – Almost a third of South Africans store information on their smartphones that they wouldn’t want anyone else to see, a national survey has found.

A study conducted by anti-virus software company Kaspersky Lab and B2B International found that 93% of locals store confidential information on their phones, but 32% store secrets.

Kaspersky said that despite saving important information on smartphones, few South Africans were willing to secure their data from cyber criminals.

“Our study found that in South Africa just 21% of users adapt their online activity when on an insecure public Wi-Fi network, despite the fact that hackers can easily intercept data and passwords. More than half however (58%) takes advantage of the security features that come with the device, such as remote blocks or find-my-device capability,” said Kaspersky Lab.

READ: Thousands of cyber attacks target SA

Cyber criminals are increasingly looking at SA as a target for cyber crime as people migrate to smartphones.

Location data

Gemalto’s Breach Level Index revealed that five attacks were registered in the country during 2015.

“Despite cyber crime growing around the world and in Africa, the number of attacks in South Africa is still very low compared to the rest of the world. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t a target for hackers, but simply that very few data breaches are made public and can therefore be quantified in the Breach Level Index,” Neil Cosser, Identity and Data Protection manager for Africa at Gemalto told Fin24 recently.

Kaspersky data showed that smartphones could potentially be a lucrative source of location data for cyber crooks because 66% of South Africans take the devices to bed and 34% use their phones to the bathroom.

“The bond of trust between users and their devices can lead them to forget about security. It’s hard to imagine that something we carry close to us at all times and turn to for everything, could ever become a threat. But it can, and does happen. A digital friend can become a digital frenemy,” said Peter Aleshkin, head of Consumer Marketing for Emerging Markets at Kaspersky Lab.

READ: Here's why you're not to blame for cybercrime

The study found that 25% of people who had their smartphone lost or stolen discovered that personal information had been leaked.

Cyber criminals are able to compromise your banking data by stealing financial data stored on smartphones and malware may secretly record key information to facilitate later criminal use in SIM swop or social media scams.

South African Banking Risk Information Centre data showed that Card Not Present (CNP) fraud increased by 12.6% to account for 75% of losses relating to South African issued credit cards in 2015.

“A failure to appreciate the potential risks and to protect our devices and information accordingly could mean the loss of confidential information, money and even our identities,” said Aleshkin.

What measures do you take to secure your smartphone data? Let us know

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