Tablets users lower guard on security

March 10, 2011

Tablets users lower guard on securityOne of the main questions about tablet devices are whether to treat them as closer to smartphones or computers. In the case of security, it appears the latter may be true.

A survey by Harris Interactive found that 48 percent of tablet users questioned have transferred “sensitive” data using the device, compared to 30 percent of smartphone users.

In both cases, users were more open to transferring personal use data than business data: 42 percent to 20 percent with tablets, and 26 percent to 14 percent with smartphones.

Breaking the results down by demographic produces some consistent patterns: men are more confident about using a tablet or smartphone for sensitive information, and with both devices the younger the person, the more likely they are to transfer sensitive data.

There are some major caveats about the findings, however. First of all, it was an online survey that was “not based on a probability sample”, meaning there’s no way to estimate how accurately it represents the entire population.

Secondly, the responses depend very much on how the respondent interprets “sensitive data.” For example, I’d expect the vast majority of tablet device owners have typed in a webmail address and password at some point. At the other extreme, you’d hope very few people are using a tablet to send their bank account number and PIN over an unprotected Wi-Fi connected to a site that isn’t using https:// encryption.

There may be an psychological explanation for the main tablet vs smartphone security point, though. Somebody using a tablet — even though its on a wireless connection — may think of it in the same way as a computer, where it’s well established people are usually happy to transmit sensitive data (being as computers are among the main ways of communicating any data.)

With a smartphone — even one that might be running similar or identical software to a tablet — there’s still the more of a psychological reminder that any information you send is literally beamed through the air.

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2 Responses to “Tablets users lower guard on security”

  1. Links 3/13/11 « naked capitalism:

    […] Tablets users lower guard on security MobileBlorge (hat tip reader Sugar Hush). I bet this has to do with the corporate embrace of the iPad. Probably not worked out this consciously, but effectively, “If my company wants me to use this for work, and that entails my transmitting important data, if there are any security issues, they must have thought about it and any resulting problems are their problem.” […]

  2. Half Of All Tablet Users Transmit Sensitive Data | Disinformation:

    […] may be an psychological explanation for the main tablet vs smartphone security point,” notes one technology site. “Somebody using a tablet – even though its on a wireless connection – may think […]

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