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New research shows that poor PIN hygiene leads to 62% of phone theft victims in the UK facing further financial loss and data breaches

  • 45 per cent of Britons use their main phone PIN for multiple apps
  • Businesses, including banks and fintechs, are not doing enough to support customers in protecting their personal data when they lose their phones

 

22 April 2024—London, UK: Nuke From Orbit, a fintech startup headquartered in the UK, has unveiled findings from its latest research report, shedding light on a concerning trend in smartphone thefts. The report indicates that in 62% of cases of smartphone thefts in the UK, the repercussions extend far beyond the initial loss of the device.

According to the research, not only were respondents’ social media and email accounts accessed, but one in four individuals also fell victim to digital wallet theft, resulting in monetary losses. Alarmingly, the study reveals that one in five respondents experienced compromised personal bank accounts through unauthorised access via mobile banking apps.

The alarming findings come amid the evolving boom in smartphone usage and the growing identity threat that users face. Although smartphones were created to simplify life with their many functions, users do not realise that this convenience has also made them more vulnerable to risk and therefore aren’t taking the appropriate precautions.

Other key findings from the research include:

  • The further losses the respondents reported can partly be attributed to poor PIN hygiene despite repeated warnings and guidance on password and PIN best practices.
  • 78% of the respondents use their smartphones for mobile banking, 85% for accessing email, 71% for managing social media and 51% for a digital wallet, indicating that cybercriminals can easily access their personal data from a single mobile device.
  • However, nearly half (45%) are in the habit of using the same PIN to gain access to the phone and multiple apps, services, and bank cards.

James O’Sullivan, CEO and founder of Nuke From Orbit commented, “Biometrics were introduced to make smartphones more secure because the frequency with which you need to input a PIN is greatly reduced, but our research shows this has led to some complacency. Criminals are returning to old-school shoulder surfing tactics – that made ATMs a nightmare – to access the phones they then steal to commit secondary crimes.”

A legislation that will contribute to the fight against such threats is The UK Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure (Product Security) Act, which will come into effect on the 29th of April. The Act will ensure that consumer technology products meet mandatory security requirements to protect against cyberattacks. Businesses will be accountable for protecting customer data as the regulation mandates them to set safety measures such as minimum default password requirements and providing information on reporting security issues.

With so much interconnectivity, and even authenticator apps and one-time passcodes utilising the same device, smartphones are at the heart of the challenge this legislation is designed to tackle.

“The Act is relevant for consumers and businesses, including banks, fintechs and online service providers. Service providers are responsible for ensuring they do everything possible to protect consumers when the worst happens. Our research suggests that currently, they are not doing enough. Nuke From Orbit is on a mission to support such service providers in protecting the digital identities of individuals and putting them back in control of their data swiftly when their smartphones are stolen.”

Nuke From Orbit offers a unique digital panic button, allowing individuals to block access to various services and accounts all at once if their smartphone is stolen. This world’s first solution adds a higher level of data protection and privacy in the mobile security market by fixing a significant vulnerability. Consumers can join the waiting list to be alerted when the service goes live in their region.

About Nuke From Orbit: 

Founded in 2023, Nuke From Orbit is a UK-based company developing a service that allows subscribers to block access to multiple services and accounts simultaneously, avoiding account compromise issues and monetary loss when their smartphone gets stolen. For more information and to see how the service works, visit https://nuke.app.

Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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