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Smartphone owners fear government hackers after Snowden revelations

Edward Snowden's NSA and GCHQ revelations seem to be unending. One of his more recent disclosures was that UK intelligence agencies had the ability hack and remotely control any smartphone.

A survey by Broadband Genie shows that smartphone owners are more than a little concerned about this, with more than half (55 per cent) saying the possibility of remote control worries them. A similar number (53 per cent) express concern that these surveillance and control powers are open to abuse, and nearly a quarter (24 per cent) feel they are a breach of human rights.

23 per cent of smartphone owners said that the extent of security services' powers could not be justified, but their concerns extend beyond worries about the government. Broadband Genie's survey also found that 59 per cent of people felt their phones were at risk from hackers and thieves, primarily because they don’t trust the available security options. More than a third of users (36 per cent) said they did not feel confident using security features and software.

Rob Hilborn, head of strategy for, says that the surveillance is targeting the wrong people:

The government justifies these powers by saying it is to combat terrorism and save lives, yet it's not clear how such capabilities help achieve these goals. Real criminals who have something to hide will know how to obscure their activity, while regular British citizens feel their private lives are coming under ever more scrutiny.

A fifth of those questioned were unaware if their smartphone had security features, but 52 per cent rely on PIN lock for protection. Less than a quarter of people (24 per cent) had anti-virus software installed.

The survey also uncovered suspicions about mobile payment systems. Uptake of the likes of Apple Pay stands at just 5 per cent, and a mere 16 per cent intend to use it in future. Part of the reason for this is likely to be that 64 per cent of people think mobile payment systems are insecure.

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