The power and portability of smartphones and tablets will save time and money for many people this holiday season. Over two times more shoppers plan to purchase gifts and 50 percent more plan to book travel using their mobile devices this year, according to new research from Webroot, a leader in delivering Internet security as a service. But convenience may come at a cost for those who skip certain measures to secure their devices and personal data.
In a survey of 1,215 mobile device users, Webroot assessed people's preferences for using mobile devices versus traditional means for researching and buying holiday gifts, and for planning and booking holiday trips. In addition, Webroot explored how people secure themselves on their mobile devices.
Webroot found that 50 percent are likely to purchase holiday gifts using their smartphone or tablet this year – up from 22 percent who did so in 2010. Additionally, one third (33 percent) of respondents plan to use their mobile devices to book holiday travel, up from 22 percent who did so in 2010. But only 40 percent of respondents have a security app installed to block threats or remotely lock and locate a lost device, and a surprising 53 percent leave their devices unlocked – potentially exposing their personal information to prying eyes.
"People using mobile devices are exposed to a new set of online risks: cybercriminals seed mobile markets with malicious apps that can steal your personal data or send texts and SMS messages to premium numbers. And because of their size, smartphones and tablets are easier to lose or have stolen than laptops and notebooks, which puts the vast amounts of personal data stored on them at risk. Mobile security services are now a must -- lost device protection, secure web browsing, and antimalware provide essential protection," said Chad Bacher, vice president of Mobile Solutions at Webroot.
Webroot found several differences between how US and UK residents prefer to use their mobile devices during the holiday season. Webroot also found several key differences in behavior among age groups, gender, and people using devices on the AndroidTM and iOS operating systems.
The US favors mobile devices for holiday shopping while the UK leverages them for travel planning:
- UK travelers use their mobile devices more intensively than those in the US while planning trips this holiday season:
- 80 percent of UK travelers use mobile devices to compare hotel or ticket prices versus 72 percent in the US.
- 56 percent of UK respondents download boarding passes versus 44 percent in the US.
- Almost half (46 percent) of UK mobile device users purchase tickets versus 32 percent in the US.
- US shoppers rely on their mobile devices more than those in the UK while holiday gift-buying:
- 55 percent scan barcodes versus 44 percent of UK users.
- 45 percent scan QR codes versus 36 percent in the UK.
- At the same time, 68 percent of US respondents indicated they also plan to shop at brick-and-mortar retail stores, versus 48 percent of UK shoppers.
Android device users are more concerned about securing their holiday shopping and travel details:
- Android and iOS device users protect themselves at roughly the same rate (44 percent and 38 percent, respectively.
- However, Android users are more concerned about the security of information.
- 64 percent of Android users are concerned (compared with 52 percent of iOS users).
- Android users also take more steps to protect their devices.
- 60 percent ensure their security software is up-to-date (versus 47 percent of iOS users).
- 43 percent avoid using mobile retail apps that store credit card information (vs. 33 percent of iOS users).
- Android users and iOS users prefer to use a mobile app rather than a browser when holiday gift shopping at about the same rate (45 percent of Android users; 48 percent of iOS users)
Men are savvier than women at securing themselves on their mobile devices:
- 44 percent of men versus 37 percent of women have security services on their devices.
- More than half (51 percent) of men lock their devices versus 43 percent of women.
- 57 percent of men limit the sites they visit when connecting from an unfamiliar network versus 48 percent of women.
UK device users are savvier about certain mobile security protection measures:
- 55 percent use the lock device feature versus 42 percent of US respondents.
- 39 percent look for the lock graphic on a status bar versus 28 percent of US shoppers.
Younger users do more on their devices during the holidays, but older users are more security-minded:
- People 50 and above are more likely to have security on their device.
- 44 percent of users 50 and above, versus 38 percent under 50.
- Younger mobile shoppers (18 to 29) are more likely than all others to:
- Use their mobile devices to compare prices (91 percent versus 83 percent of shoppers 30 years or older),
- Download coupons (81 percent versus 67 percent of those 30 and older), and
- Search for Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals (69 percent versus 50 percent of those 30 or older.
- Younger mobile shoppers lock their devices at a greater rate than older users
- 56 percent of 18-29 year olds versus 44 percent of those 30 or older.
Securing Mobile Devices
Webroot security experts recommend three key steps for securing mobile devices:
- Know your apps: Download apps only from a trusted source, like the Google Market, Apple App Store or Amazon App Store. Closely scrutinize the permissions the app requests, and don't install it if it wants to access certain functions that it doesn't need, such as the ability to send SMS messages. User reviews are also helpful.
- Lock your device: Most smartphones and tablets give you a choice of locking the device with a password, numeric code or pattern. Take advantage of this – if nothing else, you'll prevent practical jokesters from emailing your boss if you leave your device unattended.
- Explore mobile security services: Mobile security apps provide lost device protection, secure web browsing, and antimalware services. Webroot offers several free and premium versions of Webroot® SecureAnywhere™ for protecting devices on the iOS and Android operating systems.
About the Research
Webroot conducted a blind online survey November 4-7, 2011 in the United States and United Kingdom, using Research Now panel members. Respondents qualified for the survey if they were at least 18 years old, own a smartphone or tablet, and plan to purchase holiday gifts and/or make holiday travel arrangements using a smartphone or tablet. The margin of error in the United States is ±3.6 (835 respondents), and ±4.4 in the United Kingdom (490 respondents).