Australians taking lax approach to digital asset security: McAfee

MSI research finds unsecured data worth on average, $21,723

Australian consumers may have digital assets worth on average $21,000 but they are not taking adequate measures to protect them, according to a McAfee survey.

Conducted by research firm MSI International in August, the survey interviewed 221 Australians aged 18 to 74 about the financial value they would put on photo libraries, personal information and entertainment files.

It found that while consumers knew the average value of their assets, 38 per cent of Australian respondents were not securing all of their devices, which included PCs, netbooks, tablets and smartphones.

Cost was cited by 32 per cent of respondents as the reason for not purchasing security software. However, 95 per cent of customers cited security and protecting digital devices as very important and that if they had spent money on protection, 91 per cent felt that was money well spent.

McAfee ANZ small business and mobile director, Monica Kelly, said the survey also uncovered some security issues that smartphone users should be concerned about. According to the results, 82 per cent of Australian consumers indicated that it would be worse to lose their smartphone than their wallet.

“We have to address the fact that there is more data and information to lose when someone misplaces their smartphone," she said. "The devices may be coming down in price but they are still an expensive device but more consumers would like to get that data back if they lose it."

The threat to smartphones running on the Android operating system continued to grow, with the vendor reporting that malware targeted at the operating system had risen 76 per cent in the last three months compared to Q1. In the first quarter, McAfee found Android malware made up only 15 per cent of smartphone viruses while 75 per cent of malware targeted Symbian.

"We are also starting to see SMS messages that contain malware, and viruses that drop malware which causes the smartphone to constantly ring, this creates a very expensive phone bill,” she said.

Kelly added that some of the telecommunications companies that it works with, such as Vodafone Australia, had reported this back to McAfee.

The survey also found that 27 per cent of respondents owned at least five digital devices per household, with 64 per cent owing three, while 42 per cent of the Australian consumers spent more than 20 hours a week using devices for personal use.

Got a security tip-off? Contact Hamish Barwick at hamish_barwick at

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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