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Smartphone owners 'unaware of malware risks'

Barely one in 10 use antivirus software

Smartphone owners are only dimly aware that their expensive devices could be targeted by emerging types of mobile malware, a Europe-wide survey has found.

The survey by security company Kaspersky questioned 1,600 smartphone owners in the UK, France, Italy and Spain, and found that only 27 percent were ‘highly concerned’ by the security risks, with the rest either unconcerned or unaware of any danger.  

This was despite the fact that a third stored sensitive data such as PIN numbers, passwords and user names on their phones with about the same percentage using it for online bank access. Few users bother to set a password for smartphone access.

Only about half of those asked knew that antivirus software was available for smartphones, with barely one in ten using it.

Part of the explanation might lie with the various different smartphone platforms that people use. Apple iPhone users might believe that their device is unlikely to be successfully attacked thanks to features such as Apple’s closed App Store, which claims thorough app vetting.  Disappointingly, Kaspersky's survey steered away from breaking down how owners on each platform saw the malware risk.

Meanwhile, the most significant malware so far reported has affected just one platform, Android, but the survey could be taken to suggest that even Android users are still ignorant of the recent rise in attacks. It's still early days.

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