(DENNIS B MALLARI)
Mobile phone operators and consumers must take action to combat growing security threats, says an IT expert.
The warning came from Patrick Hayati, Middle East Director of network security company McAfee.
Operators should take precautions and spread awareness among users in the light of recent research that shows 72 per cent of mobile users are worried about the security of mobile services such as multimedia downloads, payments and ticketing.
The McAfee Mobile Security Report 2008 reveals that more than 86 per cent of users are worried about security risks posed to mobile handsets such as fraudulent charges and the loss or theft of information. Another 34 per cent of global mobile users question the general safety of devices and services, while at least 79 per cent of consumers are knowingly using unprotected devices.
“Concerns about mobile security risks or the loss of credibility in the reliability of services is a crucial issue for operators,” said Hayati.
“Yet this research highlights that consumer fears are growing in tandem with increased mobile functionality, jeopardising the success of new revenue-generating services and increased operator average revenue per user.
“Retaining consumer confidence will prove critical and listening to the end user is becoming ever more important in creating innovative and intuitive services which subscribers will want - and trust.”
The research revealed that while confidence levels for traditional voice and messaging services remain comparatively high, 55 per cent of those quizzed expressed concerns about mobile payments and banking services.
Frequent mobile internet users showed levels of concern 80 per cent higher than those who had never used such services. Overall, more than 72 per cent of users expressed concerns regarding the safety of using emerging mobile services.
The issue is of particular concern as the retail sector is considering adding more services such as mobile commerce facilities as they look to harness technology to reach consumers.
Mobile security incidents may not yet rival the scale and scope of PC threats but they are increasing in volume and sophistication. Fourteen per cent of global mobile users have been exposed to virus incidents.
This awareness impacts on user confidence with 80 per cent worried about the possibility of a mobile virus infecting their phones. Nuisance mobile messaging is also growing. Over a third of subscribers claim to typically receive “annoying’”spam messages at least once a month.
The research was conducted by Datamonitor among 2,000 mobile consumers spread around the world.
McAfee issues mobile warning