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Most Consumers Don't Lock Mobile Phone Via PIN

44% of respondents say its's too much of a hassle, new survey reports.

Ed Hansberry

October 4, 2011

3 Min Read

People put a lot of sensitive info on their phones, but they often give little though to how secure their data is. In a survey by a security company, over half of the respondents said they didn't bother with a PIN lock. This takes on a whole new dimension when you begin to understand how many of these people keep corporate data on the device.

Losing an unlocked phone can be far worse than losing a wallet. Emails on the device alone can reveal a wealth of information about the person, including where they bank, where they live, names of family members, and more. If company email is on the device, and it often is, there can be competitive information, salaries, system passwords, etc. If any of those emails contain links, often clicking on it will take you into the website, be it Facebook or a corporate portal.

According to Confident Technologies, 65% of users have corporate data on their phone, even though only 10% actually have a corporate issued device.

For that majority that don't lock their phone at all, 44% said it is too much of a hassle to lock it and 30% said they weren't worried about security. These are likely the same people that store things like social security numbers, passwords, and other sensitive information in text files or basic note applications. They may even store their computer's password on a Post-It Note in their center desk drawer.

Ten years ago, locking the phone wasn't a huge deal. The only thing on it was call history, contacts, and maybe some text messages. Today, almost everyone has email on the device, and 77% have a social network set up, which often has enough personal information to make identity theft a fairly easy accomplishment. Around half have banking apps and 35% have online shopping or auction sites set up. If these people aren't PIN locking the phone, they certainly aren't logging out of these sites each time so that you have to re-key the password to get back in.

In conducting this survey, Confident Technologies is trying to show how people leave their devices wide open, and they do have a product to sell that is geared to make securing a device easier. That doesn't change the results of the survey though. If you have employees accessing company servers, you can enforce policies like requiring a PIN lock. Even if they aren't accessing emails though, there is a good bet they have a password list on the device, or they may have emailed themselves a few documents to have handy. It may be time for a bit of education in the importance of securing a device. Telling them it is against company policy to have corporate data on their personal device won't work anymore than would telling them they cannot take work home to finish up a project.

Whether using a security app from Confident Technologies, which involves image recognition, the built-in PIN lock, or something else, make sure your corporate data is safe.

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