Almost half (42 per cent) of people don’t use a password to protect their phones, while just 20 per cent use anti-theft solutions.

This is according to the latest research by Kaspersky Lab, which found that people are leaving their devices and the data contained on them “accessible to anyone”.

The company said that with people increasingly relying on their mobile devices to access the internet and carry out online activities, losing a device to petty crime is potentially more damaging and upsetting than ever before.

For example, Kaspersky Lab found that 68 per cent of individuals say they regularly use the internet on a smartphone (up from 60 per cent in 2016), while 34 per cent regularly use a tablet to go online.

This means that several types of data are being stored on these devices. For example, over a third (35 per cent) of people use their smartphone for online banking, which provides access to valuable financial information. A further 57 per cent of people regularly use their smartphone for accessing social media, which involves “a huge quantity of sensitive data”.

However, despite the amount of data held on smartphones and tablets, just 14 per cent protect their files and folders to avoid unauthorised access. Kaspersky Lab said that if these devices then fall into the wrong hands, this data could then be accessible to others.

Even losing password-protected devices can still have significant consequences, the company said. This is reflected in the fact just 41 per cent of smartphone owners back up their data, which means that these individuals will likely lose access to their own data and accounts.

Dmitry Aleshin, vice president for product marketing at Kaspersky Lab, highlighted a few really simple things people can do to secure their devices and the data they hold.

“By applying password protection and using a dedicated security solution, including anti-theft protection, you can protect your personal information, photos and online accounts from both loss and malicious usage,” he explained.

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