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Around 26 million people are at increased risk of hacking

Despite people knowing more about cybersecurity, many are still leaving themselves open to potentially harmful activity.

Anything connected to the internet — from smartphones to power plant controllers — can be manipulated. — Photo: © Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images
Anything connected to the internet — from smartphones to power plant controllers — can be manipulated. — Photo: © Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

Following last week’s Twitch data leaks on 4chan, a new study reveals that as many as 26 million people in the UK (assessed as 49 percent of residents over the age of 16) indicate that they either do not know whether their smartphone has security software installed, or they actually have no security software available at all.

These data come from app development company Bacancy Technology, which has analysed statistics drawn from the UK government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS). Bacancy has discovered that, despite the variety of security apps readily available on both the Apple and Android stores, around 26 million people may be at risk.

The data shows that one in three British subjects (32 percent) are unaware of whether their smartphones have security software installed. Furthermore, almost one in five (17 percent, which equates to nine million adults) reported not having security software of any kind.

When people were asked ‘do you have security software installed on your smartphone?’, the data, categorized by age, showed:

 All16-2425-3435-4445-5455-6465+
Automatically installed/provided with operating system40394636443738
Installed/subscribed118914131211
Do not have smartphone security1727181915911
Don’t know32262731294241

Interestingly, in terms of demographics, the data pattern is relatively even.            

Further data shows that while half of British adults may be at risk when it comes to the security of their mobile devices, most of the population are aware of the steps they can take to avoid having their personal data, online activities and location tracked – though many are still leaving themselves open to potentially harmful activity.

This is borne out by three quarters (75 percent) of the population of British adults being aware of the purpose of cookies, but just one third (32 percent) have changed their browser settings to prevent or limit them. Furthermore, only half of the population express concerns over giving their location to a site or app, and a lesser 45 percent of adults report checking the security of a website they had given personal data to.

Continuing this downward trend, only 42 percent of British adults over 16 (just under 23 million residents) limit access to their social media profile and content, and only one in three admit to reading privacy policy statements before providing personal data to an app or site.

Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson for Bacancy Technology told Digital Journal: “Recent events in the news have highlighted the importance of maintaining security over our personal data and finances. Even so, it seems that while the British public are aware of the potential dangers of online activities, many are failing to take steps to adequately protect themselves and their loved ones. Digital security is of the utmost importance, and everyone with a smart device should take necessary precautions to ensure their safety.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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