Only one in ten UK citizens believe that their mobile calls and texts remain private.
According to a study of 1,000 employed people by Silent Circle, only 12 per cent of respondents believe that their mobile calls and texts remain private, while 24 per cent actively avoid making sensitive calls on a mobile phone in a bid to win back some privacy.
Vic Hyder, revenue chief for Silent Circle, said: “What our study confirms is that the wider working population of the UK are aware of the ever-increasing threats to the data we transmit via mobile technology.
“They know of eavesdropping capabilities, but in many ways are consigned to the abuse – not just from Government but from criminal scavengers and corporate competition.”
Over half of the respondents (54 per cent) believe that “anyone with the right equipment” has the ability to listen in on their mobile calls and texts, while 20 per cent believe it’s okay to listen in on people’s calls. The ‘groups’ respondents cited as having the ability to eavesdrop/listen in on calls and texts were: Government (53 per cent); the police (44 per cent); mobile service providers (33 per cent); and criminals (28 per cent). A further 17 per cent pointed the finger at a jealous spouse/partner.
Hyder said: “Everyone feels the need for privacy at some time or another , practically each and every day. Whether it’s closing the door to your office while negotiating contract details or turning your head in the coffee shop while discussing a family matter, privacy is appreciated by all, and all should have a place to go to be private – even in a digital smartphone world with eyes and ears nearly everywhere.”
TK Keanini, CTO at Lancope, said: “In the physical world, if we seek out a private conversation we do it actively and with intention. The same is true in the digital world in that if you wish to have privacy, one has to do it explicitly through strong cryptographic means: it is not there by default.
“So the problem comes down to who has access or knows how to use these cryptographic tools and the short answer is only the experts. Cryptographically ensured privacy for the common person is technically out of their reach as they do not want to invest the time or resources in it and thus we have the problem we have today.”
Brendan Rizzo, technical director of Voltage Security, said: “In the real world, people are used to making decisions every day that affects their expectation of privacy. A conversation they might have about a favourite food while in a public restaurant carries little risk, whereas people would think twice before reading out their credit card number in that same setting. That same common sense needs to be applied to communications on the internet.
“When communicating with companies, people have now come to expect reputable companies protect their sensitive data using industry best practice measures such as data-centric encryption – as highlighted by the public backlash towards the companies responsible for the recent breaches in the news who have failed to do so. Historically, companies have been hesitant to adopt data-centric encryption for fear that it will involve an expensive retrofit of their entire infrastructure. With the advent of format-preserving encryption this is no longer a hurdle, and responsible organisations are quickly adopting this approach to ensure that their customers’ sensitive information remains protected.”