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12/9/2010
02:47 PM
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Holiday Rush Leaves Smartphones At Risk

Symantec study finds smartphone users planning to use their mobile devices for work, personal purposes during the holidays

Christmas lists aren't the only thing users will be checking during the holidays: More than 60 percent of smartphone users say they plan to access sensitive data on their handhelds while they are away from the office.

A new study by Symantec found that all of the respondents use smartphones for work in some way, and that around 68 percent plan to use their smartphones for browsing the Web while on holiday -- 81 percent for work-related email; 77 percent, personal email; 68 percent, social networking; and 17 percent, viewing or working on work-related documents.

The good news is that only 20 percent will use their smartphones for online shopping, notes Symantec's Spencer Parkinson. "The interesting thing about this finding is that 62 percent of respondents do not simply plan to access confidential data on their smartphones, but expect they will need to access this sensitive data while away from the office during the holiday season. Sure, respondents might access and view this data in the privacy of their home, but in all likelihood many will do so in public, possibly while standing in a crowded shopping mall or sitting in a movie theater with strangers all around," Parkinson blogged. "The point here is that mobile device users need to be aware of their surroundings and the potential criminals lurking over their shoulder dying for a sneak peek at those employee social security numbers or that network username and password."

Close to 30 percent said they would be very likely to open an unsolicited text message, and 14 percent, an unsolicited email. Around 18 percent said they note license agreements for apps they download on their smartphones. "Since these messages can lead to malware, phishing, and other threats just the same as other more traditional methods, users need to apply the same discretion they use in opening unsolicited emails to text messages," Dickinson said in the blog post.

Close to 70 percent said their No. 1 security worry for their smartphone is loss or theft; 56 percent said mobile malware is their No. 2 concern.

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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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