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No Passwords, PINs For Most Smartphone And Tablet Users

Most smartphones, tablets are personal devices being used at work, survey says

Fat-fingering a password or PIN is an all-too-frequent frustration to mobile users today, and more than half of smartphone and tablet users say they don't bother with authentication on those devices.

In a new survey published today by Confident Technologies, which sells image-based authentication, some 44 percent of those mobile users who don't lock down their devices say passwords are "too cumbersome" on those hand-held devices. And close to 90 percent of those surveyed say their mobile devices are their own and aren't company-issued equipment, while 65 percent of them say they use them for accessing work email or the company network.

"Internet-enabled smartphones and tablets are quickly becoming the device of choice for everything from accessing work email, to social networking to even banking and shopping," said Curtis Staker, CEO of Confident Technologies. "However, people’s lax security habits have made the mobile platform the new frontier for hackers, malware and fraud. The onerous process of typing complicated passwords on a smartphone for every app or online account means that people instead choose to sacrifice security for convenience, leaving themselves and in many cases their businesses at risk of data theft and fraud."

Confident's survey also found that many users are basically lax or unaware of the security risks of having these unprotected devices at work. Around 30 percent of those who don't password-protect their smartphone or tablet aren't concerned about the security risk, and 97 percent have email running on their smartphones or tablets; 50 percent of them operate banking, financial or stock trading apps on; 77 percent, social networking apps like Facebook or LinkedIn; and 35 percent, online shopping or auction accounts.

“Many people fail to recognize that smartphones bring great risks for exposure of personal information,” said Joanna Crane, executive advisor to the Identity Theft Resource Center. “Consumers can protect themselves and their personal information by following best security practices including locking the devices, installing security software, paying attention to what information is being captured by an application, and thinking about whether that app really needs it, and using remote wiping technology if the phone is lost or stolen.”

Convenience is the main driver, of course: two-thirds of them leave applications logged in if they can, and 30 percent complain that they "often forget or mistype" passwords on their smaller keyboards. Around 60 percent say they would like an easier way to authenticate to their mobile apps.

A copy of the full report is available here for download.

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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