In an age where apps are used for all kinds of payments and purchase, a Norton survey has revealed alarming facts about how more than half of Indian mobile users prefer trading their private data for using free apps.
The Norton Mobile Survey covers 1,005 Indian smartphone and tablet users aged 16 and above.
The survey reveals close to 50 per cent of Indians with tablets and smartphones have over 20 per cent apps installed on them, while one in two Indians grant access to contacts and mobile data in exchange for free apps and exposing themselves to privacy risks.
Indian mobile users are most concerned about malware attacks, threats involving fraudulent access or misuse of credit card/bank account details and hacking and leaking of personal information.
One in three consumers accept that the apps they use are likely to collect data about them, yet one in five say they would download free apps, even if it were from a third party, while 36 per cent would grant permission without knowing the kind of permissions granted for the app to their phone.
Nearly 40% have granted permission to access their camera, bookmarks and browser history and close to 30% have granted permission to apps for tracking their geo-location.
E-commerce applications (76 percent), along with mobile banking (67 percent) and mobile wallets (62 percent), rank among most popular apps, preceded only by social networking (86 percent) and messaging apps (78 percent).
"Humans are their own enemies. Nearly 65 per cent of Indians now access the internet more often on a mobile device than on a personal computer. So consumers' usage behaviour is one of the major reasons why people in India are so vulnerable," says Ritesh Chopra, Country Manager (India), Norton by Symantec.
52 per cent of users in the survey believe their mWallet has come under threat and an average user finds it safe to hold over Rs 19,000 across their mWallet accounts at any given time, and attacks on apps where money is involved is one of the major trends in 2016.
"Keeping your phone or tablet's software updated is important, as is the case with your computer. If your mobile device is not regularly updated, it is vulnerable to threats. Download apps from official app stores and use a reputable mobile security solution," recommends Chopra.
About 68 per cent of the users worry about the security threats of online shopping and 42 per cent said they have experienced security problems, threats or nuisance as a result of using their devices for online shopping, but only 26 per cent of online shoppers believe that threats are increasing.
Globally, out of the 10.8 million apps analysed by Symantec's Norton Mobile Insights in 2015, almost 3.3 million were classified as malware, a 230 per cent increase from 2014.
Mobile devices are digital warehouses storing our most personal moments and information such as photos and videos, conversations with friends and family, health and fitness information, financial data. Yet, most consumers unknowingly put personal information on their mobile phones at risk and compromise privacy, he added.