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Americans See PCs As Safer Than Mobile Devices

Strategic Security Survey: Global Threat, Local Pain
Strategic Security Survey: Global Threat, Local Pain

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When it comes to going online, 87% of people feel safer surfing the Web from their PC compared with their phone. Yet, four out of five aren't using strong enough security tools to properly protect their PC.

That finding comes from a new survey of 3,500 people in the United States commissioned by Symantec's Norton and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and conducted by Zogby International.

"We're encouraged that more Americans feel safe going online from their home computers," said NCSA executive director Michael Kaiser. "We need to ensure that this is not a false sense of security."

Indeed, while 58% said they used sufficient security software to remain protected, after scans of their computers, only 37% were found to be running antivirus, firewall, anti-spyware, spam filters and anti-phishing tools. Anything less, said Symantec, isn't strong enough to combat the increasing complexity of today's attacks.

When it comes to risky behavior, 43% of respondents also said they'd logged into an unsecured wireless network, which increased to 66% of respondents aged 18 to 29 years old.

Contrasting people's different perceptions of PC and phone security, the study found that 24% of respondents feel very safe going online from their home computer and 61% feel somewhat safe. In contrast, only 18% said they felt very safe going online with a mobile phone, and 28% said they felt somewhat safe.

One surprise: More than 64% of respondents said they at least sometimes read a developer's privacy policy before downloading mobile apps. While that indicates a level of security awareness, the survey found that only 6% think that their phone stores passwords or account numbers, and only 23% think they've ever used location-aware technology.

According to Symantec, "this is in contrast to a recent Mobile Marketing Association study that showed 63% of iPhone customers use location-based services once per week, hinting at consumer confusion about how their mobile devices use their data."

The study also found that only 22% of people back up personal data stored on mobile phones.