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updated 5/10/2012 2:51:27 PM ET 2012-05-10T18:51:27

Smartphones are absolutely everywhere, yet their owners, as shown in a new survey conducted by Juniper Networks, are pretty stupid, or at least oblivious, when it comes to protecting their privacy and security.

Mobile phone users exhibit some very unintelligent and potentially dangerous behaviors, such as readily connecting to unsecure public Wi-Fi networks, a practice 72 percent of those surveyed in Juniper's "Trusted Mobility Index"  admitted they do. Many respondents confessed they don't know the difference between a secure and an insecure Wi-Fi network.

Coupled with the 8,608 new mobile malware samples Juniper discovered in the first three months of 2012 and the 76 percent of respondents who said they access sensitive data such as online banking credentials, personal medical information and critical work files while on-the-go, the potential for serious data loss or compromise is staggering.

Yet the average smartphone user either doesn't see the problem, or doesn't care, according to Juniper's survey of 4,037 mobile device users and IT staff in the U.S., U.K., Germany, China and Japan.

['Smartphones Are Smarter Than Their Users,' ID Theft Expert Says]

Less than half of the respondents to Juniper's survey said they read the terms and conditions of an app before downloading it; the same number of people do not research an app to make sure it's trustworthy or manually set their data security features and settings.

These are all simple oversights that leave users open to any number of attacks, notably spyware-rigged apps  built to silently siphon users' financial and personal information. These types of threats aimed at smartphones have more than doubled in just the first quarter of 2012, Juniper said.

Juniper's stats indicate that smartphone use is far outpacing the level of trust users have in their own devices. The survey showed that only 15 percent of people have a great deal of confidence in the security of their phones, while 18 percent admitted they have little to no confidence. Despite their misgivings, 63 percent of respondents said they have "yet to make up their minds" about their level of confidence in their smartphones.

Juniper showed that 16 percent of people have little to no confidence in their online banking security ; 18 percent have little to no confidence in their mobile online shopping safety; and 39 percent have little to no confidence in the security of their smartphone social networking.

"Projecting these findings on the general population of mobile users, millions of people are using mobile technologies and services today that they do not necessarily trust," Juniper wrote.

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

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