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UK smartphone users left “concerned” by Snowden’s GCHQ hacking claims

James Pearce
November 24, 2015

Poll from found biggest concerns are around abuse by security services, human rights breaches and the extent of their powers

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 11.08.20More than half of UK smartphone users have been left “concerned” by Edward Snowden’s claims that British security services can remotely access their devices.

A poll from found major concerns around abuse by GCHQ (53 per cent), while almost a quarter (24 per cent) believe they are a breach of human rights, with 23 per cent saying they think the extent of spooks’ powers are not justifiable.

The poll comes just a few weeks after Snowden revealed to BBC Panorama that MI5 can access and take control of people’s smartphones using a set of tools called “Smurf Suite”. Snowden claimed agents can even turn on devices that are switched off, and access features such as in-built microphones.

Several UK telecoms firms have been the subject of cyber attacks this year, including TalkTalk, Vodafone and Carphone Warehouse.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 11.08.51Price comparison site spoke to 1,578 smartphone users from across the UK, with 65 per cent saying they had heard of Snowden, but just 57 per cent agreeing with his decision to leak confidential NSA documents.

59 per cent said they don’t feel their smartphone is safe from hackers or thieves, citing a lack of trust in available security methods (57 per cent). head of strategy Rob Hilborn says: “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.”

For an expert hackers view on smartphone security, click here.

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