25% of Mobile Devices Unprotected – Brits Not as Tech Savvy as They Think

news release

25% of Mobile Devices Unprotected – Brits Not as Tech Savvy as They Think

The Real Hustle’s Paul Wilson shows us what happens when our guard is down(video available)

London, UK, 30 September 2013 – Almost one in four of the 50 million mobile device users in the UK1  do not password protect their devices suggesting they are not as tech literate as they profess according to new research commissioned by Experian CreditExpert to mark the beginning of National Identity Fraud Prevention Month.

Over two thousand (2,033) UK mobile device users were surveyed; and whilst 73% claimed to be tech literate, some worrying behaviour when getting on with a busy “Life On The Go” also emerged:

  • Only 37% of respondents have a passcode or PIN on all mobile devices, and 27% on some devices.  43% of those that do have passcodes/PINs shared them with family, friends or colleagues;
  • Only 17% of mobile device users always accept security updates that are sent to their mobile device, such as OS updates, potentially leaving their personal information at risk should their devices become compromised;
  • Over a third (36.3%) do not ask anyone for security tips or support when using a mobile device. 

The Technology Security IQ (TSIQ) research revealed that a third cite that it is social networking activities which worry them most with regards to other people getting access to their personal information, yet many of them reveal information through these channels that could be used to commit online identity fraud or theft:

  • One in ten say that ‘everyone’ can view their social media account and they have no privacy settings in place;
  • When it comes to sharing personal information, 13.6% list their email address and one in four reveal their date of birth on their social media profiles;
  • 13.5% of respondents have accepted a friend request on Facebook from someone they don’t know, giving strangers access to the personal information they publish on their wall. This figure rose to over a fifth (22%) amongst 25-35 year olds and almost a third (29%) amongst 16 to 24 year olds;
  • 6% ‘check in’ their location on social media, letting potential criminals know their house is empty. This number doubles (12%) amongst 16 to 24 year olds.

Peter Turner, Managing Director of Experian Consumer Services UK&I, commented: “The convenience of being able to live our lives on the go through mobile devices is empowering, but means that we share more of our personal information, which forms our online identity and therefore brings the risks of ID fraud. Our research shows that individuals still take quite a few risks when it comes to using their personal and financial details online.

“The number of identity fraud cases is constantly increasing - Experian’s Victims of Fraud team has seen a staggering 33% increase in the number of fraud incidents investigated in the last year. We should continue enjoying our convenient life on the go, but need to remember that our mobile device is no different to our home computer or laptop.”

What can happen when your guard is down…

The Real Hustle’s Paul Wilson, set aside his knowledge of keeping safe online to show what can happen when our guard is down.  He undertook a number of challenges in the Experian ‘Identity Trail’ across London using a new mobile device.  Paul was fully aware that this experiment would enable Experian Consumer Services to look for and identify any weaknesses in his unguarded online behaviour, reveal them and see what a fraudster might potentially be able to discover.

The experiment demonstrated a number of ways users can be exploited when in a rush, making basic security mistakes that leave us exposed to phishing, credit card details capture, personal account mediation.  A professional security consultant tracked Paul throughout the day and was able to log his usernames, passwords web sites visited, and read his e-mails.  Paul’s payment card details were also captured when he tried to make online purchases as part of the Identity Trail.

Paul Wilson, TV presenter on The Real Hustle, said: “Today we showed what can happen if you let your guard down – this is what happens when we are in a hurry.  In terms of protecting our identity, the most common mistake we make is not to pay attention when we should, especially when we are accessing something online or using an unknown source like a free WiFi spot.  You shouldn’t walk around paranoid, you should enjoy the convenience of modern life; just take some precautions.”

Peter Turner continued: “Last year it took people an average of 444 days to discover they had become a victim of identity fraud so live your life on the go with care: think about how you secure your devices are and the amount of information you share online.  With the advent of web monitoring services, consumers can be instantly alerted if their personal details are being used or misused online so that they can take steps to identify and stop any suspicious activity before they become a victim of identity fraud.”

Simple steps that can help protection you from ID Fraud when living a busy Life on the Go: 

  • Use different strong passwords - different online accounts such as emails, banking, shopping and social networks.
  • Protect your mobile devices with a Pincode lock - every mobile device offers this facility. It’s simple to use and adds extra peace of mind if you tend to leave your mobile device in public display.
  • Remember that open Wi-Fi hotspots are riskier than private networks so be conscious of the information you access via mobile networks.
  • Check your device’ geo-location settings – understand which applications have access to your geo-location information, how it is being used and shared.
  • If in doubt, don’t click. Online is now second nature to many people. But don’t let that give you a false sense of security. If a website looks dubious, an online offer too good to be true, or an email with its subject line and content conflicting with what your bank would normally send you, don’t click. Check online to see if other people have encountered what might be a scam or virus, and contact your friend or bank to see if the email is legitimate.
  • Know where your details go. If personal information falls into the wrong hands, within minutes, the data can be used to access your accounts, and can be bought and sold in underground forums around the world. Protect yourself with a service like CreditExpert’s Web Monitoring, which alerts members by text or email at the first signs that their details have been compromised.

People who think they have become victims of identity fraud should notify the police, contact their bank and check their credit report. Experian's Victims of Fraud service is also available free to fraud victims, and has a dedicated team to give expert advice and support tailored to their particular circumstances.

1Compiled from eMarketers estimates released in August 2013

For media enquiries please contact:
Experian Consumer Services:
Joanne Leahy,
020 3042 4089

Melville Communications:
Mumtaz Hussain
01483 489 009

Notes to editors:

Research methodology
2,033 interviews with adults in the UK aged 18+ conducted between 19th August 2013 and 27th August 2013.  The research was carried out by independent research marketing agency Opinion Matters.

The Real Hustle – What we got from Paul Wilson’s online behavior during the Identity Trail

Note:  Interview footage and B-Roll of Paul Identity Trail are available upon request

About Experian Consumer Services
Experian Consumer Services offers a suite of Identity Protection products to help consumers and businesses manage the risk of data loss and ID fraud. Products include DataPatrol, DataAlert and ProtectMyID as well as the unique web monitoring tool offered as part of Experian CreditExpert, which alerts customers as soon as their personal information is used or misused online.

About Experian
Experian is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients around the world. The Group helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft.

Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended 31 March 2013 was US$4.7 billion. Experian employs approximately 17,000 people in 40 countries and has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; California, US; and São Paulo, Brazil.

For more information, visit http://www.experianplc.com.