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The #1 Riskiest Mobile Users Wear Suits

Business users top the rankings of those most likely to engage with risky apps and URLs on their smartphones and tablets.

As mobile malware continues to grow into a legitimate threat, some users are proving more prone than others to being subject to attack. According to a new survey out this week, the demographic most likely to routinely engage in risky mobile behavior isn't youngsters on Snapchat or 'digitally hooked' users who consume vast quantities of mobile video and entertainment. Instead, the most risky users are businesspeople.

The Allot Mobile Trends report took a subjective look during a week-long period at a random sample of 500,000 mobile users on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone platforms. The researchers examined their behaviors according to the potential riskiness of the mobile apps and URLs they frequented on mobile devices, paired up against their demographic information. With the help of Kaspersky Lab, Allot sliced and diced the top 500 apps and 500 URLs frequented by these users not only by riskines, but also by type of content. Doing so gave them a better picture of how user demographics and mobile habits make certain populations more likely to having their phones, tablets, and other mobile devices compromised.

Across the board, the study found among all user activity, about one in every 30 mobile browsing transactions was potentially risky, while one in every seven mobile app sessions was risky. The study found that about 64% of men used potentially risky apps at least once every 24 hours compared to 42% of women. When broken down by age and gender, 63% of young females and 65% of young and millennial males use risky apps at least once a day. By contrast, only about 42% of millennial females and 31% Gen X and Baby Boomer females do the same.

Interestingly, when broken down by business versus non-business use, business users are twice as likely to use potentially risky apps than the average across all of the profiles examined. Approximately 67% of businesswomen and 79% of business men used risky apps at least once a day.

"This could be fueled by the tendency for business people to use smartphones and tablets for both business activities and personal use, increasing the variety of content and number of transactions they engage in regularly," the report speculated. "Often, their security demarcations are blurred."

The other guess is that mobile devices are less likely to be monitored and managed than business PCs and laptops.

"Smartphone users can download and use any App they choose, and often, they can browse to URLs that are blocked on the company network," the report said. "This freedom exposes business people to more cyber risk and can open a backdoor for malware to infect business networks."

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Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

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