Report: Smartphone Users Not Smart Enough About Security

Trend Micro study finds 44 percent of respondents feel surfing the Internet on their smartphone is as safe as surfing on their PC

August 19, 2009

4 Min Read


CUPERTINO, Calif., Aug. 17 --For smartphone users, losing a phone or contact information and personal data is more alarming to them than Web threat infections or phishing schemes, according to a recent Trend Micro survey of over 1,000 smartphone and iPhone owners 18 years and older. In fact, 44 percent of respondents feel that surfing the Internet on their smartphone (which may not be equipped with security software) is just as safe, if not safer, as surfing on their PC.

Surfing, Without a Leash According to the survey, only 23 percent of smartphone users utilize security software already installed on their smartphone. One out of five respondents don't think installing security software program on their phones would be very effective since, in their opinion, there is limited risk in smartphone surfing.

Despite such assurance, most smartphone users are familiar with the types of Web threats that could infect their smartphones and almost half of respondents have been infected by malware.

Phishing is a the most familiar "threat" term among smartphone users - 80 percent of them know what it is and 20 percent of them have encountered a phishing scam, which is designed to con victims into supplying ID info, account numbers, names and passwords by replying to email messages.

Spam is another smartphone staple. Almost half of the respondents surveyed have received spam emails on their phones in the past 3 months; 17 percent say that the number of spam emails has increased. Half of those surveyed have opened email attachments on their smartphone during the last month and nearly 40 percent have clicked on a URL link in an email received on their phone.

iPhone Users - More Surfing, More Risk Compared to other smartphone users, the survey found that Apple(TM) iPhone(TM) users are more likely to: Surf the Web from their smartphones Visit audio/video sharing sites, shopping, blogs and Web logs and social networking sites. Send and receive email, as well as open an email attachment or clink on a URL link in an email. Listen to music, watch videos, download music, use the GPS functionality, and visit online gaming sites.

Correlation doesn't always equal cause, but the sleek Web-browsing functionalities that make the iPhone so attractive to gadget lovers also make them more susceptible to Internet-related threats compared to other smartphone users. The most recently reported iPhone SMS vulnerability if unpatched, for example, could allow hackers to extract personal information and take control of the device if a user is on a malicious Web site or an unsecured 3G or WiFi connection.

Smart Surfing and Smart Browsing for Mac Users The free Trend (TM) Smart Surfing application, available in the iPhone App Store, helps protect users of the iPhone and iPod touch from Web threats and cybercrime. The application uses Trend Micro's Web reputation technology, a component of the Trend Micro(TM) Smart Protection Network, to block users of iPhone and the Apple(TM) iPod(TM) touch mobile devices from unintentionally visiting Web sites that may contain malicious content designed to steal confidential information and personal data. So while users are strongly encouraged to update their devices with security patches (like the one Apple issued immediately after it discovered the SMS vulnerability), Trend Micro Smart Surfing provides an extra layer of security by blocking users from accidentally visiting a site that could exploit a vulnerability. For consumers who use Mac(TM) computers and are concerned about online security, Trend Smart Surfing allows them to shop, bank and surf online while staying safe from attacks on personal identity and confidential information. The product includes parental control features that prevent children from visiting inappropriate Web sites.

The full survey report is located in our media room:

About Trend Micro: Trend Micro Incorporated, a global leader in Internet content security, focuses on securing the exchange of digital information for businesses and consumers. A pioneer and industry vanguard, Trend Micro is advancing integrated threat management technology to protect operational continuity, personal information, and property from malware, spam, data leaks and the newest Web threats. Visit TrendWatch at to learn more about the latest threats. Trend Micro's flexible solutions, available in multiple form factors, are supported 24/7 by threat intelligence experts around the globe. Many of these solutions are powered by the Trend Micro Smart Protection Network, a next generation cloud-client content security infrastructure designed to protect customers from Web threats. A transnational company, with headquarters in Tokyo, Trend Micro's trusted security solutions are sold through its business partners worldwide. Please visit

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