Brokers have a key role to play in advising clients on the potential risks of not taking adequate security smartphone measures and the value of cyber insurance

Ecclesiastical is encouraging brokers to speak to their clients about cyber risks after its survey found that smartphone security complacency could see devices as a target for criminals.

A survey conducted by Ecclesiastical found that nearly three in five (58%) people believe smartphones are vulnerable to cyber-attacks and just under half (48%) think smartphones can be hacked, but smartphone users are still not taking measures to protect their devices.

Sarah Willoughby, art and private client development director at Ecclesiastical, said: “During lockdown many of us have become more reliant on our smartphones than ever before to keep in touch with loved ones and order items online. Our research has highlighted that, while many clients are using their smartphones to make financial transactions and pay for purchases, most are concerned about cyber security risks.

“It’s important that brokers encourage their clients to consider the risks associated with using smartphones. Cyber insurance can offer a safety net should the worst happen and brokers play an important role in helping clients understand the risks they are facing and in ensuring they have the right cover in place.”

Ecclesiastical is working with Blackstone Consultancy to help brokers talk to their customers about the cyber risks they face


Further to this, Ecclesiastical’s research found that only two in five (43%) have an antivirus app installed on their phone and more than half (54%) of those surveyed accept friend requests on social media because they recognise the photo.

Meanwhile, more than half (52%), also shared their current location on social media and half (50%) admit to sharing photos on social media during a holiday.

The survey revealed that only half (51%) always use a password or biometric authentication to unlock their phone.

One in ten (16%) never used a password or biometric authentication.

Whereas four in five (78%) admitted to using the same password for multiple websites or apps, while seven in ten (68%) admit to using simple and easy to remember passwords such as their date of birth.

Tom Tahany, operations manager at Blackstone Consultancy, said: “Ecclesiastical’s research found many smartphone users aren’t taking simple steps to protect their devices and this complacency can start at the time of purchase. If you buy a second-hand smartphone from eBay or Facebook Marketplace, you don’t know who you are buying from and whether the phone is safe and secure.

“It’s important to be mindful of the risks. If you decide to sell your smartphone, we recommend you factory reset your device multiple times to remove any scraps of data that, if purchased by someone with the right skill-set, could be used to steal your identity.”

Unsafe networks

Nearly three quarters (70%) of people were concerned about becoming a victim of online fraud.

This is closely followed by malware (69%) and identity theft (68%).

One in ten (11%) of those surveyed were unsure whether they have had their mobile phone hacked, while only 4% said their phone had been hacked.

Tahany added: “It’s also interesting to read that people are still using public wi-fi even though they don’t trust it. Before logging onto public wi-fi with a smartphone or other device, think twice.

”Not every wi-fi network is genuine as hackers sometimes create fake wi-fi networks, and once logged on, they can see everything you do. If you do have to use public wi-fi we strongly recommend you avoid accessing sensitive data, including making bank transfers or reading confidential documents, until you can log onto a secure network such as your wi-fi at home.”

In the broker’s research the majority of people in the UK (72%) were concerned about cyber-security when logging onto free public wi-fi.

Despite more than half (55%) believing it is unsafe to log onto free public wi-fi via a smartphone, seven in ten (69%) still did it.

Out of those who used free public wi-fi, 13% admit to doing online shopping, 13% online banking, and 10% paying for purchases.

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