Study Finds Only Some Cell Phone Users Protect Mobile Privacy

Sep 5, 2012 15:18:49Posted by John Skorick, MyAKA Founder & CEO

Study Finds Only Some Cell Phone Users Protect Mobile Privacy

These days, more people than ever are using smartphones, which means they are downloading apps for entertainment, work and other purposes at an astounding rate. Sometimes, you may encounter an app that seems suspicious or one that may require you to input your personal information, and these should raise red flags when it comes to mobile security. A recent survey from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project found that, of the 88 percent of respondents who own cell phones, 43 percent have downloaded at least one app to their device, according to the National Journal.

"The way a mobile app handles personal data is a feature that many cell phone owners now take into consideration when choosing the apps they will use," said Mary Madden, co-author of the report, according to the news source.

More than half (54 percent) of those who have downloaded apps reported they have changed their minds about installing apps upon discovering that they would be required to provide details such as phone numbers or email addresses to use the program. In that same vein, approximately one-third of cell phone users have uninstalled apps that were collecting personal information, such as GPS data and phone numbers.

The Washington Post reports that location security ranks low for many individuals, as only one in five reported turning off GPS tracking services on their phones and apps. Should location-based data fall into the wrong hands, criminals could potentially track you down in real life, which puts you in physical danger. This is something many may not consider when it comes to cell phone privacy, as data and identity theft tend to be in the forefront.

In addition to paying attention to what information your apps are accessing, you should also be wary of the data you personally put on your phone, including your browser history. The study found that only about one-third of cell phone users clear their mobile history regularly. You can also safeguard your device in case if it lost or stolen by putting a security access code in place. This requires you to enter a personalized code to be able to use the phone.

According to the Washington Post, lawmakers are making efforts to protect the privacy of mobile users by putting laws in place that would require app developers to make their privacy policies clearer and easier to understand. The Federal Trade Commission has raised concerns over the wording many companies use for their policy statements, as this can make it difficult for the average user to understand the terms and conditions, the news source points out.