In a global consumer study released today, Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR) found that four out of five people cite "level of security" as a top or high priority when buying or using smartphones and tablet computers — and more than half are anxious about losing their mobile devices, protecting their identities and protecting their families with parental controls. At the same time, nearly three out of four people surveyed use their mobile devices to share or access sensitive personal or business information.

The research, commissioned by Juniper and conducted by KRC Research and Synovate with more than 6,000 smartphone and tablet users across 16 countries, reveals a blurring of the lines between the personal and business use of mobile devices and highlights the need for more stringent and better integrated mobile security. Almost 44% of respondents use their devices for both personal and business purposes, while fewer than 4% use them strictly for business. If business IT leaders think they can keep the devices at bay, 81% admit using their devices to access their employer’s network without their employer’s knowledge or permission—and 58 % do so every single day.

"Smartphones and tablets have become the new onramp for information, applications and commerce — yet they are quickly becoming an onramp for security threats as well," said Mark Bauhaus, executive vice president and general manager, Service Layer Technologies Business Group at Juniper Networks. "Fortunately users are growing very aware of the security, identity and privacy issues involved. Now the industry needs to step up and make security an integrated part of the mobile experience, not an optional afterthought."

Identity, Privacy and Parental Controls Matter

More than 58% of smartphone and tablet users surveyed fear losing their devices and not being able to recover the data and information on their device. A similar number (64%) are extremely or very concerned about the possibility of identity theft resulting from the use of their mobile device. Parental controls matter too, with 53% of all respondents finding them extremely or very important.

It may come as no surprise then that 41% of respondents say that level of security is a "top priority" and 40% say it is a "high priority" when considering the purchase or use of a smartphone/tablet. Yet the study reveals that there is a gap between the level of security that users want and the amount of security they will manage themselves—only 24% of respondents frequently change the security settings on their mobile devices. Thirty-five percent (35%) do so only when a need arises, 31% rarely or never change them and 9% are unfamiliar with the security settings on their mobile devices. Moreover, 14% of respondents say neither their smartphone nor their tablet is password protected.

Additional Research Findings

  • More than 76% of consumers surveyed use their smartphones or tablets to access sensitive personal or business information, including: 51% to enter or modify passwords; 43% to access banking or credit card statements; 30% to access utility bills; 20% to share financial information such as credit card numbers; 18% to access employer’s proprietary information; 17% to access medical records; and 16% to share social security numbers.
  • Of the 16 countries surveyed, India (90%) showed the highest level of user concern for mobile security issues, followed by Brazil and Russia (88% each), Germany (86%) and China and Italy (both at 85%). Respondents in Hong Kong (70%), Belgium/Netherlands (74%) and the U.S. and Japan (77% each) were the least concerned by comparison.
  • Business and personal use varied by region and country, with personal use dominating in Canada (72%), Japan (70%), France (67%) and most other countries. China, Russia and Brazil were the leading exceptions with 75%, 65% and 61% combined business and personal use respectively — and Belgium/Netherlands reported the highest business-only use (12%).
  • Responses varied even more widely on the question of accessing employer networks without the employer’s knowledge or permission. Smartphone/tablet users in the U.S. were the most conservative, with only 52% admitting to unauthorized access. Brazil, Russia, Japan and Italy were the most aggressive, with 94%, 93%, 90% and 90% respectively admitting to unauthorized access.
  • Password protection levels were fairly consistent across countries, with only 10% to 20% not having passwords — with the exception of U.S. respondents, where 25% reported not being password protected, and India and Singapore where only 8% and 6% reported not being password protected.
  • Concern levels about specific threats were also fairly consistent, with the exception of India and Brazil where concerns about phone/data loss (84% India, 75% Brazil), parental controls (77% India, 72% Brazil) and identity theft (87% India, 82% Brazil) were well above the norm. Russia and Singapore were also well above the norm for phone/data loss (68% Russia, 79% Singapore) and identity theft (82% each), though within the normal range of concern about parental controls (55% Russia, 47% Singapore).
  • Respondents in the U.S. were among the least concerned — only 43% for phone/data loss, 43% for parental controls and 46% for identity theft. Belgium/Netherlands was less concerned on phone/data loss, with only 41%. Japan was less concerned on one threat, with 40% for parental controls.

The survey was conducted via global omnibus surveys by phone and online during October 2010 with more than 6,000 smartphone and tablet users from a pool of 16,000 consumers across 16 countries, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Russia, China, India, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. The survey was conducted by KRC Research and Synovate on behalf of Juniper Networks.


Join 2 million subscribers

A curated newsletter that summarizes the important news at the intersection of Global tech, India Tech and AI.

Delivered 8 AM. Daily.