Survey reveals many users are worried about their personal data and safety
Mobile owners are more than happy to use location-based applications, despite many having concerns about privacy and what the app providers many be doing with their data, according to a new survey.
The research was carried out by non-profit global information security association ISACA and found over half (58%) of smart device owners regularly use location-based applications. Nearly one-third of respondents are using location-based services more now than they were a year ago.
Getting directions is the most popular use for location services, with 59% of respondents using maps to help guide them around. This was followed by geo-tagging of photos for dating sites, social networks or photo sharing apps like Instagram (44%).
However, despite these widespread uses many people have concerns about location-based services. Nearly a quarter of respondents said they were worried that their details would be used for marketing purposes and the same number said they were worried that strangers would know too much about their activities.
On a similar theme 21% of respondents were worried about the impact on their personal safety if too much information about their location was revealed.
The survey also revealed that nearly half (43%) do not read the permissions before downloading an app, while 25% of those that do believe app developers should be clearer about how location information is being used.
This is not an issue that is limited to the consumer space, however. As CBR has reported recently, targeted attacks are on the rise and are being used by cyber criminals as a way of gaining access to an organisation’s network. Location information is valuable data for a criminal to build up a picture of his or her target.
"Geo-location is becoming a real source of commercial and financial benefit for organisations, but unfortunately, as with any technology that becomes popular, it is also becoming more interesting for hackers, scammers and spammers," said Marc Vael, director of ISACA.
"This survey is a reminder to pursue an ’embrace and educate’ approach to geo-location — embrace the benefits the technology brings, while first educating yourself or your enterprise about the potential risk," he added.
Like any other kind of information-sharing, location-based apps can be tremendously convenient but also risky. Knowledge is power. People should educate themselves so they can understand how their data is being used or know how to disable this feature," added Marios Damianides, partner, Advisory Services, at Ernst & Young and former ISACA international president.
A recent report into internet security by Symantec revealed that targeted attacks are on the rise, climbing from 77 per day in 2010 to 82 in 2011.