Smartphone users often consider themselves to be technically savvy people who harness the power of the web on the move, but it turns out many aren’t as switched on as they would like to believe.

According to research revealed today by AVG, there is a fundamental misconception about what is deemed safe behavior on their mobile devices.

The survey asked 5,000 smartphone users in the UK, US, France, Germany and Brazil about their phone habits and what kind of data they store on their device.

One in four of those surveyed store intimate photos or videos on a smartphone or tablet, leaving themselves vulnerable to breaches of personal privacy.

It seems that when smartphone owners are using their phones “recreationally” they often forget about privacy implications. However, AVG’s survey indicated that they are acutely aware of data threats.

50% of all respondents feel that mobiles are less secure than computers, which is why only a small number of smartphone owners shop (35%) or bank online (38%) using their phones.

So what’s stopping users making the most of these powerful, miniature computers? Well I think it starts and ends with security. 70% of smartphone users we spoke to were unaware of security solutions which allow you to remotely wipe a phone in case of emergency.

This highlights the fundamental distrust users have of their mobile devices and why they are reticent to do their most sensitive business while on the move. However, it hasn’t stopped them making themselves vulnerable in other ways, with sensitive photos or videos for example.

“This survey has clearly demonstrated that there is confusion in the minds of consumers about what is and isn’t safe or sensible to do with a mobile device,” said JR Smith, CEO of AVG Technologies. “It is time for the industry to wake up and start educating consumers about privacy and security.”

So here goes… our top five tips for keeping your mobile device safe:

  • Avoid installing any applications that aren’t downloaded from the official Google Play store. If you don’t know who made it, you can’t trust it.
  • Don’t install anything that sounds too good to be true. Examples may include “free ring tones” “free wallpaper” etc. Always be sure what your downloading is legitimate.
  • Think twice before “rooting” or jailbreaking your device which will remove standard security features.
  • Always keep your phone updated with the latest operating system. This will make sure your phone is as safe as possible. You should check for system updates about once a month.
  • Install an antivirus app on your phone. Be sure to check all settings; make sure the appropriate boxes are checked for the data you are receiving, i.e. web surfing, text messaging and real-time scanner. Ensure that you scan your device regularly and above all keep it up to date.