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Security Concerns on the Radar for Internet Users in China

Almost nine in 10 rely on antivirus software

There seems to be at least one phenomenon that crosses cultural boundaries in the digital age—consumer concerns about online security. The population of internet users in China, which eMarketer estimates will reach 620.7 million by the end of 2013, is no different, according to the quasi-governmental agency China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).

The CNNIC, in a survey of both mobile and landline phone users conducted in September 2012, found that nine of 10 respondents thought that all internet users should be concerned about the security of their personal information, a result that is unlikely to astound anyone.

Internet users in China taking a proactive approach to security relied on a grab bag of common-sense security measures. The installation of security software was the most popular countermeasure, but internet users also commonly refrained from installing unknown software, made efforts to minimize their personal information online and avoided suspicious links. Users seemed less confident in security certificates; only about four in 10 internet users surveyed said they used them.

Respondents said that potential threats to their information came via a variety of channels. The largest group of respondents, 68.3%, cited spam emails as the most common medium of would-be thieves. More than half had received unwanted calls, and almost one in four had been the target of unwanted messages. Only about 10% said they had been subjected to malware on their mobile device, but that may be because users were unaware their phone had been compromised.

Of those mobile internet users that did install security software on a mobile phone, 42.2% did so because they had just bought a new smartphone, while 33.8% had been spurred to action after learning about mobile viruses. Interestingly, about one-quarter of those using mobile antivirus programs said the software had come preinstalled on their phones.

eMarketer estimates that the number of mobile internet users in China will grow from 492.5 million in 2013 to 631.7 million by 2016. And as mobile internet continues to grow in China, so too will concerns about the security of mobile devices.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Facebook Newsfeed Ads Get Retailers High-Value Clicks” and “To Prod Men to the Grooming Aisle, Retailers Use Digital Tactics.”

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