Is your smartphone safe from online threats?

As the security industry kicks off National Cyber Security Awareness Month today, a new report from McAfee has found that 90 per cent of people do not feel completely safe from online viruses, malware and hackers.

In partnership with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), McAfee surveyed 1,000 adult Internet users, and found disparities between online safety perceptions and actual practices.

While the majority of those surveyed agree that a safe and secure Internet is important, the same amount are concerned about identity theft, viruses, hackers, loss of privacy, and other Internet security maladies.

"The Internet is central to our daily lives and our economy and this new survey shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans believe keeping this system safe and secure is vital," Michael Kaiser, executive director of the NCSA, said in a statement. "The Internet is a shared resource for so many of our daily activities, which is why protecting it is a shared responsibility."

Smartphone security and password protection issues have grown as more people have started using smartphones to access the Web. According to the NCSA/McAfee survey, an even 50 per cent reportedly turn to their mobile device for Internet use, up 6 per cent from last year.

Among them, 63 per cent believe their device is safe from cyber-criminality, with 15 per cent saying they feel "very safe." But 29 per cent are concerned about an attack on their smartphone.

The NCSA reminded smartphone and tablet users that it is just as important to install security software or apps on a mobile device as it is on a PC, where, according to the survey, most people feel safest accessing the Internet.

Chris Boyer, NCSA president and AT&T assistant vice president for public policy, said October's awareness month is a time to reflect on past security measures, and determine how to improve upon them.

"We want all audiences to understand that protecting the Internet is increasingly becoming a matter of public safety," Boyer said in a statement.

McAfee and NCSA reminded Internet users to stay safe online by keeping security software current, limiting shared personal information, creating strong passwords, and protecting all Internet-enabled devices, including computers, smartphones, and gaming systems.