Smartphone Users In India: Teens Are Highly Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks [STUDY]

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The exploded adoption of Smartphones has got its own share of security concerns and threats as Indian teenagers are vulnerable to security threats on their smartphone devices. A recent report by Norton by Symantec highlights that a considerable 62% of the respondents feel that teenagers in India are highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Surprisingly, 54% of the respondents also believe that there is a probability of teenagers likely to commit a mobile-related crime, such as leaking inappropriate photos, revenge porn, etc.

The study also reveals that 36% of the respondents fear that their personal information is leaked. 30% of the respondents said that they might become a victim of cyberstalking and revenge porn whereas 33% fear of a virus/malware attack.

The survey was conducted by Symantec by Norton which covered 1,005 Indian smartphone and tablet users, lying in the age group of 16 years and above, from 14 Indian cities. 30% of the respondents who participated in the study were parents of teenagers aged between 13 and 16 years.

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The respondents of the survey are also concern about the growing influence of smartphones in kids and teens personal life. They have a legitimate fear that the teenagers would also indulge in inflicting cyber-attacks on other people. 27% of the respondents felt that teenagers might hack someone’s personal information. Junk texts and emails (25%), cyberstalking (22%), revenge porn (24%), cyberbullying (26%), Catphishing/sweetheart scams (12%) are the top attacks that a teenager can inflict on victims according to respondents. Catphishing/Sweetheart scam is the one where a person tricks his victims into a fake romantic relationship by changing his identity.

The smartphone market in India is dominated by the Android OS, which commands around 97% of the market. Android OS, especially its previous versioned smartphones (before Marshmallow), is prone to cyber-attacks. As some manufacturers don’t pay much heed to their older smartphone models, the devices become vulnerable to cyber-attacks due to missing security updates released in the latest version of the operating system.

But the concern is not limited to India alone; a recent report reveals that children are more drawn towards smartphones especially in the US. The average age of children getting their hands on their first smartphone in the US is just 10.3 years. Interestingly, it’s not just smartphone kids, and teenagers are immensely attracted to, the use of tablet devices among the kids has increased by 55% from 2012, whereas smartphone usage has grown by 45% over the same period. The easy access to technology may create fatal effects in the future as kids are insolent about its hazards.

“As ‘digital natives’ teenagers face various mobile security challenges – as a victim and as perpetrators,” highlights Ritesh Chopra, Country Manager, India, Norton by Symantec.

Chopra illustrates that a 13-year old teenager is insolent about the difference between a good app and a bad app. Teens tend to download apps from non-evaluated third-party app sources, but they must be aware of the potential risks associated with it. He laments that parents should keep a check on smartphone habits of their wards.

Youths are emerging as the drivers of smartphone industry revolution in India as half of the smartphone users in India are young. One of the Ericsson’s reports illustrates the age-wise distribution of mobile internet user base in India. In 2015, a significant 15-20% of the total mobile internet users belonged to the age group of 12-19 years. A substantial 40% of the mobile internet users in India belonged to the age group of 20-30 years.

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Apps play tricks with smartphone users; according to another Norton report, a considerable 50% of the respondents have granted permission to access their contacts and mobile in exchange for free apps. Interestingly, 40% of the respondents have given access to their camera and photos as well.

Chopra also addressed the growing adoption of apps among the smartphone users. He said that 1 in every 2 Indians has over 20 apps installed on his/her smartphone or tablet device, and 36% of them have given access to their personal information because they think that having such apps installed look ‘cool’. Chopra also addressed the growing concern towards theft of digital money as 52% of the respondents believe that the mWallet installed on their smartphones has come under threat in the past.

Smartphone Adoption in India: Too Fast, Too Many Concerns

India has become the second largest smartphone market in the world after China. But still, smartphone penetration in India still stands at just 17%. Gartner, however, estimates that smartphone shipments would increase significantly by 29% year over year by the end of 2016. On the other hand, according to IAMAI, the mobile Internet users in India was slated to touch 367 million mark by June 2016. Thus, considering the small population penetration of Smartphones and mobile internet the adoption of smartphone and mobile internet by the teenagers is bound to grow exponentially in the future.

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17% of smartphone penetration means that 221 million people in the country of 1.3 billion have a smartphone. Going by the Ericsson report around 17% of the smartphone users in India or 37.57 million falls in the age group of 12-19 years in 2015, which is a large group of people. Therefore, it’s important that one must pay heed to the rising insolence in this age group.

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