A new research shows that the relationship between the UAE residents and their digital devices is often closer than between best friends, with 33 per cent in the UAE taking them into the bathroom and more than a quarter of them sharing secrets with their device that they don’t want anyone else to know.
However, this trust could be leaving users at risk as devices can be hacked and private information exposed to the world, said a research released by cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab and B2B International.
The study found that the overwhelming majority of people in the UAE, i.e. 83 per cent, store important, confidential and sometimes irreplaceable information on their smartphones, including passwords, messages, photos, contacts, files and more.
Around 28 per cent in the UAE say that their devices carry sensitive information they wouldn’t want anyone else to see.
Further, these devices are carried and used everywhere- 64 per cent in the UAE use their devices at work, 52 per cent in cars, 46 per cent on public transport, 66 per cent while in bed and 33 per cent use their devices even in the bathroom.
Outside home, these devices face potential risks that include damage, loss and theft, but also hacking by cyber-criminals with the intention of stealing data or even spying on the user.
Devices that are used on open Wi-Fi networks are particularly vulnerable to attack.
However, few people take action to reduce their risk.
“Our study found that only 18 per cent of users in the UAE adapt their online activities when on an insecure public Wi-Fi network, despite the fact that hackers can easily intercept data and passwords. However, 62 per cent take advantage of the security features that come with the device, such as remote blocks or find-my-device capability.
“The consequences of not protecting our devices can be far-reaching. According to the study, a quarter of people whose devices had been lost or stolen discovered that their personal or secret information had been leaked,” Kaspersky said in a statement.
However, it does not necessarily mean that users’ devices and data are automatically safer once at home. Here, they face different and sometimes greater risks, particularly in sensitive places such as bedrooms and bathrooms, when a hacked device could easily turn the webcam on the user.
Digital friend can become digital enemy
“The bond of trust between users and their devices can lead them to forget about security. It’s hard to imagine that something we carry close to us at all times and turn to for everything, could ever become a threat. But it can, and does happen. A digital friend can become a digital frenemy. A failure to appreciate the potential risks and to protect our devices and information accordingly could mean the loss of confidential information, money and even our identities. The device camera that we use to look out onto the world can be hacked and used to look into our world instead. Security is simply not an optional extra,” said Peter Aleshkin, Head of Consumer Marketing, Emerging Markets, Kaspersky Lab.
To ensure a digital friend doesn’t transform into a digital frenemy, Kaspersky Lab recommends that people always set strong passwords for devices and for their online accounts, install a trusted security solution such as Kaspersky Total Security – multi-device and take care when accessing websites and downloading apps, particularly over insecure Wi-Fi networks.