Mobile app data protection not our responsibility, say Australians

Onus put on companies, service providers to secure data collected by mobile apps says Newspoll survey

Companies are responsible for protecting data collected by mobile apps rather than the individual who uses the app according to an Australian survey conducted by Newspoll.

The study, which was part of the annual Unisys Security Index, surveyed 1200 Australians aged 18 years and over in April 2013. The survey asked who should be responsible for protecting personal or financial data collected and stored in mobile apps.

Eighty per cent of Australians surveyed said the provider of the service a mobile app links to, such as a bank or airline, was responsible for protecting collected data.

In addition, 75 per cent of respondents indicated that government agencies were responsible while 67 per cent wrote that Internet service providers should be accountable for data protection.

Only 66 per cent of the sample survey said it was the individuals’ responsibility.

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Unisys Asia Pacific security program director John Kendall said that some companies are open about the fact that they use apps to collect personal data.

“This may be positioned as a convenience to the user, such as a mobile app designed to help insurance company customers collect information at the scene of an accident and submit a claim on the spot,” he said in a statement.

However, Kendall warned that mobile apps may also contain hidden malicious code designed to gather and transmit data.

“Individuals must take personal responsibility to be aware of what information their mobile apps are accessing, particularly if the mobile device the app sits on is being used in the workplace – regardless of whether the device is owned by a company or an employee."

According to Kendall, employees could inadvertently allow mobile apps to capture sensitive information such as unencrypted data, location tracking, contacts and sign-on details.

“People need to be aware of the risks and take steps to minimise the chance of mobile apps accessing data without permission – both their own and their employer’s,” he said.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Techworld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_AU

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Tags mobile applicationsunisysUnisys Security Indexmobile data protection

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