High monthly fees are the primary reason German, U.K. and U.S. smartphone subscribers would switch providers, but the situation changes drastically when the security of a subscriber’s smartphone is breached, according to a survey conducted by Opinion Matters for network security systems provider Crossbeam Systems.
Polling more than 1,000 adult smartphone subscribers in each of the three countries, Crossbeam found that 63% of respondents cited high monthly fees as the primary reason to switch providers, with only 5% citing a lack of security. However, should their smartphones “be compromised by hackers, malware or other security features,” 55% “would consider changing providers and 19% would definitely change providers—leading to a potential exodus of 74% of customers,” Crossbeam states in a press release.
The results suggest a serious fault in network operators “conventional thinking about their investment priorities, with most aggressively focusing on building ever faster high-speed network infrastructure and attractive data plans, but less on shoring up their security infrastructure and offering value-added security services and protection to end users and their devices.”
According to the survey results, 56% of global respondents don’t know if their mobile network provider has put smartphone security measures in place. Nonetheless, 42% of U.S. and 38% of U.K. smartphone users would blame their network provider if their device or service was hacked or otherwise compromised. Twenty-two percent and 18%, respectively, would blame their smartphone manufacturer, according to Crossbeam.
This was less so in Germany, where 45% said they’d blame themselves before their provider (21%). However, German smartphone subscribers would be just as likely to switch providers in the event of a security breach. In contrast to their counterparts in the U.K. (26%) and U.S. (35%), 47% of German respondents said they have security countermeasures installed on their smartphones.
“Smartphone users, like most people, don’t think about the security of their devices until they’ve been hacked. This may be misleading mobile network operators to focus less of their attention on customer security and underestimate the risk it creates,” Peter Doggart, Crossbeam senior director of global marketing, was quoted as saying.
“There is an inadequate level of investment in security compared to other areas of the mobile network. This is a wake-up call for service providers, especially as we’re reaching a critical mass of smartphone users worldwide, not to mention the growth of data-enabled endpoints connecting to mobile phone networks, including smartphones, tablets, e-book readers and more. The quantity of threats directed at mobile devices and their level of sophistication are on the rise.
“The results indicate that mobile network providers will be blamed, regardless of who’s at fault,” added Doggart. “This more than anything reveals an important opportunity for providers to be proactive about securing their networks in order to gain customers and minimize churn. As smartphone attacks become more prevalent, the service providers who anticipated the increased need for security and took the time to prepare will be in the best competitive position.”
The Crossbeam survey results showed that 53% of global respondents would be willing to pay additional fees to help improve security. Fifty-nine percent of U.S. and 65% of German respondents indicated they’d be willing to pay an additional fee for improved security. In contrast, 63% of U.K. respondents were against any type of additional fee.
The risk of unauthorized persons gaining access to their personal information, such as credit card numbers and passwords was the biggest security concern for 60% of smartphone users responding. More than 42% worried about losing stored contacts, while 45% were worried about access to their private media (photos, videos, text messages). Forty-three percent of respondents were aware that their smartphone contained applications that stored or had access to sensitive personal financial information.