Mobile users security savvy finds survey

More Android owners see the need for security software than iOS owners, but more iOS owners are willing to pay for it.

That’s one of the takeaways from a joint survey PCWorld conducted together with Jefferies.

The joint survey, took into account the responses of 1410 readers of PCWorld and Macworld to get a feel for their preferences and attitudes regarding security software on their Macs and PCs, as well as their iOS and Android devices.

According to the joint survey, 65% of respondents feel there’s a need for security software on their smartphones or tablets.

Focusing on mobile OS, though, it becomes clear that users of Android phones and tablets feel a more pressing need for protection than do iOS users.

For example, 84% of Android smartphone owners surveyed felt security software was a necessity, while iPhone owners were split down the middle. Among tablet owners, the story was much the same: 79% of Android tablet owners think they need security apps, but only 51% of iPad owners agreed with the sentiment.

These results seem to suggest that most Android users are aware of the risk of malware on smartphones. A recent study suggested that the amount of Android malware is growing rapidly, but it’s worth keeping in mind that although Android malware is growing quickly percentage-wise, Android malware remains fairly low in quantity compared to Windows malware.

The fact that a non-trivial number of iPhone and iPad users see the need for security software seems to suggest that they’re not living in fantasy-land, either. While the more locked-down nature of the App Store reduces the risk of iOS malware, it’s still possible that hidden malware can sneak past Apple’s app review panel, analysts said.

These results may also suggest that many iPhone and iPad owners are concerned about keeping their personal data safe in case their gadgets go missing, or are concerned about other threats like phishing.

PCWorld pointed out that Apple has yet to allow mobile antivirus software on the App Store. Most of the security software on the App Store are Web browsers that flag malicious websites, threat information apps, and so forth.

PCWorld said that given this fact, it was interesting to note that more iOS device users were willing to pay for security software than their Android device peers. Overall, 57% of those surveyed said they would be willing to pay for security software for their phone or tablet.

While 50% of Android smartphone owners and 56% of Android tablet owners said they would buy mobile security software, 69% of iPhone and 66%t of iPad owners said they would be willing to be pay for protection.

However, analysts said that this could be due to the fact that Apple users may be more affluent, as suggested by other studies, but data for this research doesn’t provide any insight into this.

The one conclusive take-away from this data is that mobile users are increasingly savvy and aware of the potential vulnerability of their devices. And this is a good thing, since we expect to see malware incidents on mobile operating systems rise as more users shift their day-to-day activities from desktops to mobile devices.

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