Friday, 09 October 2020 16:04

VIDEO Interview: HMD Global's James Robinson talks 5G, 007, OS upgrades, data security and more


Unlocking Aussie mobile security sentiments and habits, the report reveals "nationwide confusion over critical security concepts – leading to risky habits", plus some top smartphone security tips

HMD Global, the home of Nokia Phones, was in the news in late September, having launched its new Nokia 8.3 5G phone, its first 5G phone with the most global 5G bands of any smartphone to date, while showcasing its tie-in with the highly anticipated 007 movie, No Time To Die, which iTWire covered here.

Sadly, thanks to the highly annoying COVID-19 pandemic, which is still ongoing, and which has made movie cinemas more dangerous than the lairs of James Bond's most cunning villains, the movie has been delayed until 2021, but Nokia 8.3 5G hasn't, and it's due to arrive in Australian stores like JB Hi-Fi from mid-October 2020, at a very competitive $899 price.

HMD Global was also in the news for releasing its new ANZ Smartphone and Data Security Report, a detailed, 14 page PDF that you can see here in full which "explores the complicated relationship Australians have with their mobile phones, from security concerns, to data transparency through to the complexities of packing our personal and working lives into one device".

I spoke to HMD Global's Country Manager for ANZ, James Robinson, with that video interview embedded below, along with more information about the report, but first, what were some of the report's key findings?

Well, glad you asked! Here they are:

  • Although over half (52%) of Australian phone owners are concerned about their phone’s security, a third (37%) have no idea where their data is stored
  • Over a quarter (28%) of Australians don’t understand how their phone’s manufacturer handles customer data and 24% call for more transparency
  • 475,000 Australians have accidentally shared a work file with a personal contact whilst on their mobile phone
  • Over half of Gen Z (54%) employees want clearer boundaries by separating their work and personal devices – compared to a third (31%) of Baby Boomers

More on the report is below, but first, here's my video interview with James Robinson, Country Manager ANZ for HMD Global:

So, what are some other notable facts and figures from the report?

Data security concerns

We're told that "As COVID-19 related scams, smartphone security and malware issues prevail, the report found that over half (52%) of Australian mobile phone users are concerned about their phone’s security.

"A quarter (24%) are calling for more transparency around how phone manufacturers handle our data. Indeed, when it comes to how and where our data is stored, confusion prevails among Australians. Over a third (37%) admit they have no clue in which country their phone’s data is stored.

"Although more than a quarter (28%) don’t understand how manufacturers handle customer data, Australians are willing to seek out information, with 30% saying they’d like to learn more about how to use their phones safely when it comes to protecting their data security".

Snoozing Operating System updates leaves us exposed

"Although security patches and operating system updates play a critical role in ensuring smartphones are safe and secure, almost a third of Australian mobile phone owners (30%) are either unsure of their importance or claim it’s not important that their phone runs on the latest Operating System.

"Only 37% of Australian mobile phone owners diligently update their device immediately when prompted. There are still however, over a quarter (27%) of phone owners in Australia who wait more than a week before doing so – leaving nearly 6.9 million Aussies targets for hackers as they press snooze on their security updates".

Work-life balance through our phones

"With our living rooms and kitchen tables turning into office spaces, working Australians see many benefits to keeping these two realms apart and mobile phones play a critical role in this. The HMD Global ANZ Smartphone and Data Security Report found that of those who were employed during lockdown, more than three quarters (77%) would use a complimentary work phone if offered by their employer.

"Younger generations are particularly keen for more boundaries, with over half of Gen Z (54%) wanting a work phone to keep their work and personal lives separate compared to 31% of Baby Boomers".

Phones playing hazardous dual roles

"When it comes to work phones, security is a consideration. One in five of those employed during lockdown desire a work phone for secure work communications (22%) in addition to device security for work data and files (21%).

"When it comes to our security mishaps, the generational gap is significant with Millennials (15%) admitting that friends and family have occasionally seen work-related files and conversations on their personal devices, compared to just 2% of Baby Boomers.

"Packing personal and professional lives into one device has also led to 475,000 Australians accidentally sharing a work file with a personal contact whilst on their mobile phone.  

"While secure work phones add an extra layer of safety for work communications and bring balance to our increasingly fluid working lives, there is room for improvement. Among the Australians employed during the pandemic, only 16% currently have a work phone offered by their employer".

James Robinson, HMD Global Country Manager ANZ said: “The attitudes and behaviours in HMD Global’s ANZ report highlight the need for an in-depth, considered conversation around smartphone security and the role phone manufacturers and individuals play in this dynamic.

“These findings are a wake-up call to both: giving a hefty nudge to the industry to focus on the security of our customers – while empowering everyone to not only demand better from phone manufacturers but also, take simple steps towards keeping safe and connected.

“At HMD Global, we pride ourselves on delivering our promise of two years of OS upgrades and three years of security updates for all devices with pure Android. Australians are guaranteed a safe and secure device with all activation and performance data stored at the Google Cloud Region in Hamina, Finland and protection via European security measures and legislation, including General Data Protection Regulation.”

Here are some key phone safety tips from HMD Global:

Next time you pick up your phone, consider taking these simple steps to keep connected, safely.

1. Be security up-to-date

Know which Operating System your smartphone is running on and make sure to immediately update your device with the latest software when prompted. Software updates ensure your device’s digital safety by updating any security or software vulnerabilities that could put you or your data at risk. 

2. Protect your device from harmful content

Cyber threats come in many forms so you should be vigilant. Be cautious when opening messages as they may contain malicious software or otherwise be harmful to your device. You should also be cautious when accepting connectivity requests, browsing the Internet, or downloading content. Do not accept Bluetooth connections from sources you do not trust and only install and use services and software from sources that you trust and that offer adequate security and protection. You can also install antivirus and other security software on your device but only use one antivirus app at a time.

3. Get cosy with two-factor verification

Applying a two-step authentication process when signing into your accounts on your mobile and other devices keep your data and accounts safe from scammers or hackers. Two-factor verification can be applied by combining your regular password with an additional security factor. This can be a fingerprint scan, facial recognition, or you can download a smartphone authenticator app that allows you to link your accounts and will send you a code via text message, which changes each time you use it. Check your app store for a reputable app to help you do this.

4. Research your phone manufacturer’s data security policy

Do you know where your data is stored or how it is handled? Ensure peace of mind by researching the data and security policy of your device manufacturer. It’s worth understanding how your phone manufacturer manages customer data so you know who is handling your information and from where in the world. This will ensure your data and security needs are aligned with the device you choose to use. 

5. Check your privacy settings on social media

When you share a tweet or post a photo, you are sharing data and information with the world unless you have restricted your privacy settings. Managing your privacy settings will ensure you stay in control of what information you’re sharing, where and with whom. Check your account information across all your social media channels and make sure to keep your settings as private as possible so only your friends and family are seeing what you post – if that makes you more comfortable.

The HMD Global ANZ Smartphone and Data Security Report can be seen here in full.

You can also watch the nearly 19 minute launch of the Nokia 8.3 5G phone and more from late September 2020 here:

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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