Survey: Most users ignore mobile privacy concerns

A new survey says most smartphone users are worried about mobile privacy issues with their devices – however, that’s not stopping them from using apps that might leak sensitive data. 

Most smartphone users have concerns about mobile privacy, especially regarding apps that use geolocation capabilities to transmit data from a mobile device about a person’s physical location, according to a recent survey by ISACA. Often, geolocation is used to record data for marketing purposes.

Users’ top concerns include:

  1. Third-party companies holding too much of their personal information (cited by 24% of respondents)
  2. Strangers knowing too much about their personal activities (24%), and
  3. Potential threats to personal safety if location information falls into the wrong hands (23%).

But despite those mobile privacy concerns, 58% of the 1,000 U.S. smartphone users polled continue using apps with geolocation services.

In addition, 43% of respondents said they don’t read agreements on apps before they install them. Those agreements are meant to spell out exactly what personal information will be accessed and how it will be used — however, another 23% said those agreements aren’t clear about how their location information will be used.

The disconnect between users’ concerns about mobile privacy and security and their behavior when they use their mobile devices has been reported before. For example, one survey from last year found that 69% of people adamantly believe that the leaking of personal data through mobile applications is unacceptable — however 75% of those folks admitted they don’t read terms and conditions before they install apps. Also, 70% said they don’t know how to properly configure their device for security.

Those results are troubling for IT, as it shows a lot of users who’ve been issued company smartphones might be using them in ways that jeopardize sensitive data. However, the good news is that people are concerned about mobile privacy and security. That means a little training on how to avoid the risks could go a long way toward changing that behavior.