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Survey: More consumers password protecting their smartphones

The number of people who password-protect their smartphone is on the rise.

The wireless industry group CTIA released a survey Monday that found that 61 percent of wireless customers have a PIN code or password on their smartphone, up from 50 percent in 2012. The number of consumers who pass-protect their tablets grew from 48 percent to 58 percent.

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However, the number of users who have software installed on their phones that can remotely lock the phone — something advocates can combat the rising theft of smartphones — has fallen slightly. Thirty-six percent of users have the software installed on their smartphones, down from 39 percent in 2012.

The findings come at a time when the security of smartphones is a matter of debate in Washington. In addition to the growing concerns over cybersecurity, policymakers are weighing whether to give law enforcement greater access to encrypted data.

Officials in the Obama administration decided this month that it would not support the creation of so-called “backdoors” that would give law enforcement a way to access encrypted data on smartphones and elsewhere.

It’s a defeat for law enforcement, who pushed hard to ways to get passed increasingly common encryption technology. But the decision is favored by tech companies like Google and Apple.

There are signs that users are becoming comfortable storing their private data on their phones. Fifty-two percent of respondents said that were willing to record healthcare data on their mobile devices or had already done so. The same percentage said they were willing to or had accessed medical records on the mobile devices.

The survey had a sample size of 1,523 adults who own and use a smartphone or tablet. It was conducted between February 9 and 18.