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Locking your phone isn’t enough to protect yourself

New Keepsafe survey shows how exposed we really are

We’re smart people. We know not to share our social security numbers with just anyone. We keep our ATM pins to ourselves. We invent sophisticated passwords to protect our emails and computers. We lock our phones with a passcode.

Well, one of these things is not like the other, according to a survey we did with 1,000 U.S. consumers. If you dig into the data and look at the full report here, you will see that people are generally aware of the sensitive and personal information on their phones. Yet they still share their passcodes with acquaintances or even hand their unlocked phones to strangers!

It’s ironic. People set up sophisticated security features like fingerprint technology to protect their most valued information, but they undercut their own security measures by blithely passing their phone to someone at a party or in front of a tourist site. They even voluntarily give phone passcodes to friends for instant access.

Our survey found that we are using our phones for work, to access our bank accounts, to shop pay for things in stores. That’s a lot of personal and sensitive information on our phones! They’ve become traveling safes full of some of the most important information in our lives. Nevertheless, we’re still alarmingly casual about guarding that information.

We summarized all of these insights in a new report, The Myth of Mobile Phone Privacy.

Key insights:

  • Other people access your phone all the time. 66% have given their phone passcode to someone else and 74% have handed their phone to someone unlocked, leaving themselves open to privacy breaches.
  • Content on the phone is not really private. 70% of respondents think their personal content and information on their mobile device is only somewhat private or not private at all;
  • There’s no need to protect my info. 50% don’t think they keep private content or information on their phone, despite using phones to send and receive work emails and using mobile banking, payment and shopping apps;

We also produced an infographic based on the most interesting results: basic mobile passcodes aren’t preventing embarrassment! People can’t stop things from popping up on phone screens at the wrong times. The survey found that 1 in 3 people have had something pop up on their phones that others saw, and 1 in 4 people say that it was something embarrassing. Passcodes aren’t delivering the content privacy that consumers need.

Most people don’t think about how often they’re handing over their phones. For instance, in our survey, only seven percent of people said they’ve handed their phone to a stranger unlocked. But when we asked 1,000 Keepsafe users, 48% said they’ve given their unlocked phone to a stranger to have them take a photo, and 82% said a stranger has given them an unlocked phone to take a photo.

Keepsafe’s mission is to give people more Content Privacy on their mobile devices. Today’s privacy discussions tend to be dominated by concerns over data and security. But when it comes to photos, videos, emails, and the loads of personal information stored on phones, there’s an assumption that mobile passcodes have us covered — not true, as our research clearly shows.

We know that people need better tools to protect their privacy. This research is another data point that we add to the conversation about Content Privacy. It’s important that we educate everyone about protecting their phones and their private lives.

As always, let us know your thoughts: @keepsafe.

Download the full report and infographic.

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