A recent report has found that for the first time in the Internet’s history, mobile device usage accounts for more time spent online than time spent on a traditional desktop PC. This will come as no surprise to those who have watched businesses scramble to respond to the influx of devices now hovering at our fingertips, with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Bring Your Own App (BYOA) increasingly taking centre stage in the IT industry’s concerns.
Such findings will, in fact, probably surprise few. The increasing ubiquity of Internet-enabled devices – not just smartphones – has been a hallmark of this decade, with the Internet of Things earmarked by many as the next technological jump for consumers and businesses alike. The ‘app for that’ mentality is bringing smartphones and devices such as smartwatches and wristbands ever more to the forefront of our lives, changing our behaviour at both work and play.
Results from IDG Global Solutions’ fifth consecutive Global Mobile Survey found that 80% of respondents used a tablet for work-related research of an evening when they were at home and that 50% used a tablet to read newspapers, sounding another death knell for printed media. More remarkably, 40% of respondents had replaced their PC or laptop entirely with a tablet, relying on mobile devices exclusively for their IT needs.
These findings, however, come at a time when the security of mobile devices – a longstanding issue – is very much under question. Antivirus company Avast! recently succeeded in recovering ‘deleted’ files from over twenty old smartphones acquired through eBay. Using publicly available digital forensics software, they gained access to thousands of files on the old phones which their users thought had been deleted permanently, many of which were sensitive in nature. According to IDG, such security concerns remain the ‘biggest barriers to growth’ in smartphone usage.
That’s not to say that technology giants – Apple and Google included – aren’t taking steps to make our mobile lives more secure. A recently passed US law makes the inclusion of a ‘kill switch’ compulsory for all phones manufactured in the future, allowing users to remotely wipe devices should they be lost or stolen, rendering them useless.
Despite current security concerns, mobile is here to stay. As mobile devices have advanced, encompassing more and more of the needs of the typical consumer, they have become integral to our lives, rendering traditional PCs extraneous to most people’s needs. Mobile security will eventually catch up, and then it is highly likely we will see a future in which a house with a desktop PC is an exception rather than the rule.