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Despite security concerns, the majority of consumers in the US and UK are reluctant to share their mobile number with Internet companies to gain more security for their social accounts
New international research on security issues related to social media from mobile interaction specialist tyntec and YouGov finds consumers in Brazil and Russia are most concerned about identity theft, whereas users in the US and UK are most troubled with the lack of control over what information is shared when using social media. When asked if they had ever experienced a security threat 35% of respondents in Russia claim their own online account has been hacked at some point in time; whereas, only 7% in the UK and 12% in the US personally experienced a breach. However, 39% of UK and 35% of US participants state that they know of someone else whose profile that has been hacked.
In its second annual “Mobile Messaging and Social Networking Survey”, tyntec found that only 12% of UK and 11% of US respondents are willing to share their mobile number with online application providers to add an additional security feature on their individual social media accounts, compared to 46% of Brazilians and 42% of Russians who would be willing to do the same. These representative survey findings can be used to help Internet companies educate end-users on how to easily increase security on their social accounts, while holding themselves accountable for only using mobile numbers to authenticate identity and nothing else.
The July 2013 YouGov survey, sponsored by tyntec, polled more than 4,000 participants aged 18-55+ in the US, UK, Brazil and Russia.
Identity theft tops the list of security concerns for Brazil and Russia
When it comes to concerns with social media, consumers in emerging markets are most troubled about identity theft, whereas consumers in developed markets are most concerned with the lack of control over what information is shared. In fact, findings from the survey reveal that Russian users display the most vulnerability to social media hacks with 35% of respondents admitting to having their own account hacked–that number was nearly triple that of the other nations surveyed: Brazil (12%), UK (7%), and US (12%).
- When asked what concerns them most about social media, Brazilians and Russians claim that identity theft topped the list of concerns with 44% and 28% of the vote, respectively.
- Participants from the UK and US agree that the lack of control over how much information is shared is most concerning, with 36% and 38% respectively. Only 23% of Brazilians and 18% of Russians feel the same.
When it comes to solutions for preventing hacks and protecting their individual information, participants of all countries are still relatively unaware of the industry terms “two-factor authentication” or “two-step authentication”, even though it is one of the most promising security tactics to date in combatting social media hacks. 78% of Brazilians, 79% of Russians, 77% of Brits and 72% of US Americans claim to be unfamiliar with the terms 2-factor authentication or 2-step authentication.
SMS-based two-factor authentication: adding security to social media profiles
As recent events attest, online security breaches of social media accounts are becoming more frequent and extreme. In an effort to combat security threats, many Internet companies like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter are turning to SMS-based two-factor authentication (2FA) to augment their existing systems due to its user friendliness, cost efficiency and effectiveness. To deploy SMS-based 2FA, end-users are required to share their mobile numbers with online application providers to enable the authentication process.
According to survey results, individuals in Brazil and Russia are largely in favor of sharing their mobile number with social media players, in order to receive increased security of their individual accounts. Conversely, users in the US and UK are more uncomfortable with the idea. Further findings concluded that in all countries surveyed, women display the most risk-adverse behavior when it comes to sharing their mobile numbers.
These specific findings are outlined below:
- Of the 46% of Brazilians in favor of sharing their mobile number with online application providers, 53% are men and 40% female.
- From the 42% of respondents in Russia comfortable with sharing their mobile number to increase security the response is more balanced with 45% men and 40% women.
- In general, UK and US participants are less willing to share their mobile number with social media providers – with only 12% and 11% respectively.
- In the UK, only 8% of women would share their mobile number, whereas 16% of men are willing.
- In the US, only 9% of women are okay with the idea of sharing their mobile number, while 13% of men would do the same.
Internet players need to educate end-users on security
“Using Twitter’s recent high-profile hacks as an example, the impact of a security breach can yield devastating consequences, economically and politically,” said Thorsten Trapp, Co-Founder and CTO of tyntec. “Nowadays, we’re starting to see more business leaders asking the tough questions and making security a priority for their end-users. Despite their best efforts, our survey finds that the many users are uncomfortable sharing their mobile number with Internet players, even if it’s meant to increase the security of their individual account. To many, a mobile number is considered to be a “personal identifier” and highly sensitive information.”
“If SMS-based 2-factor authentication should be successfully implemented, Internet companies need to clearly communicate why mobile numbers need be shared to launch 2-factor authentication, as it’s the most effective tool in combatting hacks and protecting their end-users’ information,” continued Trapp. “At the same time, Internet players need to make end-users feel more comfortable sharing their mobile number by ensuring that their information will only be used for security reasons.”
With more than 10 years’ experience in offering high-quality messaging solutions on a global scale, tyntec also provides an easy to implement, reliable and fully transparent SMS-based mobile authentication service for Internet companies, OTT players, enterprises and security providers. The solution includes a 15-second delivery guarantee for SMS One Time Passwords (OTPs) along with real-time, handset-sourced delivery receipts
This article has been published by tyntec
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