McAfee has unveiled two investigative reports that reveal the level of disconnect that exists between generations about mobile device security and consumers’ vulnerability to threats on these devices.
“Meaningful protection is a personal right for consumers, whether families or connected individuals,” said McAfee EVP, Chief Product and Revenue Officer, Gagan Singh.
“The common thread that connects these two search offerings is that consumers value the protection of their data, privacy and identity. As our use of mobile devices increases rapidly, we must remember that a mobile device is a connected device, just like a computer.
The mindset of different generations on the security of mobile devices
In this report, parents and children were asked about their mobile behaviors, to find out how children use mobile devices and where their actual behavior differs from their parents’ assumptions, a new area of industry research that includes the crucial perspective of children. Key research findings show:
13 pass 30
While consumers understand that their desktop and laptop computers need protection, awareness of the need for mobile device protection has not kept pace.
- Globally, children and teens trust mobile devices more. 59% of children think a new phone is safer than a new computer, while parents are equally divided (49%).
- Children’s mobile devices are less protected globally. 56% of parents use passwords to protect mobile devices, compared to only 41% of children and teens, creating security risks.
- Children are exposed to the risks of adults. One in 10 parents said children had experienced a financial information leak, and 15% of children said an attempt had been made to steal their online account.
Parents protecting (or not) their offspring
Parents show greater attention and action to protect young children and adolescent girls on their mobile devices, compared to boys of the same age, leading to hidden risks for boys, especially younger boys who report higher instances of harm. Specifically:
- In the United States, 40% of parents of boys aged 10 to 14 install mobile parental control software on their children’s devices, compared to 34% of girls the same age.
- Younger boys report more cyberbullying and online threats than girls of the same age, a trend that applies to all threats examined, as shown in the following:
- In the United States, 29% of boys aged 10-14 have reported a threat on their account, compared to 16% of girls the same age.
- Boys aged 10-14 in the US (28%), Australia (26%), India (21%) and the UK (19%) reported cyberbullying at the highest rates of the countries surveyed .
- Girls aged 10-14 in the US (22%), Australia (21%), India (20%) and the UK (18%) reported cyberbullying at the highest rates of the countries surveyed .
Mobile maturity and gender parity
While almost all family members depend on mobile devices, the way they use these devices differs significantly by gender.
- Research has shown that globally, by age 15, mobile usage increases significantly and remains constant into adulthood.
- Girls reported earlier adoption of mobile use in many of the countries surveyed, particularly in North America and Europe. In these regions, many more girls aged 10 to 14 use mobile devices than boys of the same age.
- Social media use in the United States showed significant gender differences, and girls reported adopting almost all mobile activities at a higher rate than boys:
- Globally, 53% of girls in all age groups use social media, compared to 44% of boys.
- In the United States, 65% of girls aged 10 to 14 stream music compared to 51% of boys.
- In the United States, 30% of girls shop online compared to 24% of boys.
This is even true for the gaming arena in the United States, where 57% of girls aged 10-14 report playing on mobile devices, compared to 52% of boys the same age.
The latest techniques used by cybercriminals to deceive or defraud consumers
The report focuses on some of the latest techniques that cybercriminals are using to deceive or defraud consumers in growing numbers.
Smishing for malware
Mobile smishing (SMS + phishing) attacks use personalized greetings in text messages that claim to be from legitimate organizations to appear more believable. These messages often link to websites with genuine logos, icons, and other graphics, prompting the user to enter personal information or download an application. Once downloaded, these apps steal personal information, contacts and text messages from consumer devices. The stolen contacts are used to fuel cybercriminal campaigns, expanding their network of targets.
Players get tricked
Cheat codes and hack apps are popular ways to get extra features in mobile games. Criminals exploit this by adding malicious code to existing open-source applications and promoting them on legitimate messaging channels. If installed, the malware steals account credentials for social media and gaming accounts.
Mine for nothing
The cryptocurrency market is particularly ripe for attacks from mobile devices, with cybercriminals deploying fake apps that promise to mine coins in the cloud for a monthly fee, promising monetary payments to the subscriber. The catch is that they take money from the user, but do not mine or increase the value of the subscriber’s wallet.
pretend to do it
Cybercriminals use personal information and high-quality graphics to make their malware look like legitimate applications. Hundreds of these apps promise features like mobile gaming or photo editing and are backed by fake five-star reviews. Once installed, the apps simply ask for the user’s phone number and verification PIN and use them to sign up for premium text services that direct payments to criminals.
What can consumers do to protect themselves?
- Having a critical eye and some skepticism are essential tools to protect yourself, your family and your growing collection of digital devices.
- Players should exercise caution when installing game hacks, especially if they ask for superuser permissions. These permissions allow cybercriminals to take control of devices.
- Mobile security defenses are evolving and adapting to these types of threats, adding or improving important features such as phishing and fraud alerts, identity protection, and active notification if personal information is found on the dark web.