More consumers than ever before are buying smartphones. A smartphone is an Internet-enabled mobile phone with the ability to purchase and run applications. Smartphones are generally equipped with voice, data, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS functions. Operating systems include Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS and Windows’ Mobile 7. Most function on a 3G wireless connection and can switch to Wi-Fi when it’s available. Newer models are being built to accommodate the upcoming nationwide deployment of 4G wireless networks.

“Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users totaled 417 million units in the third quarter of 2010, a 35 percent increase from the third quarter of 2009, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales grew 96 percent from the third quarter last year, and smartphones accounted for 19.3 percent of overall mobile phone sales in the third quarter of 2010.”

In the U.S, there are 293 million cell phone subscribers and cell phone penetration is over 93%. In 2010, more than one in four households had cell phones and no landlines, which is an increase of 2.1% over 2009. Almost one in six households use cell phones exclusively, despite having a landline. Wordwide, there are 5 billion smartphones in use.

The number of mobile broadband subscriptions surpassed the half billion mark in 2010, and in 2011 broadband subscriptions are expected to exceed one billion. As more and higher speed networks are built, more consumers will gravitate toward the mobile web. Smartphone users are downloading billions of apps and spending millions via mobile payments. In fact, for the younger generation, smartphones are used for a majority of ecommerce transactions. Many of these people haven’t been inside a bank in years!

Taking Security Measures .

As more people switch to smartphones, mobile security concerns increase. Here are a few reminders to help keep your data secure on your phone:

1) Use a PIN to lock your phone: 55% of consumers do not use a PIN to lock their phones. Mobile content is especially vulnerable to hackers and thieves.

2) Don’t store banking passwords on your phone: 24% of consumers store computer or banking passwords on their smartphones. 40% of consumers say losing their phone would be worse than losing their wallet, and two million mobile phones are lost or stolen every year. That’s one every fifteen seconds.

3) Register for a service that can remotely locate, access and wipe your phone: There are services that can remotely access a lost phone, pinpoint its location, and, if necessary, wipe the data from the phone. Now is the time to consider investing in one, before you lose your phone.

Robert Siciliano is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto. (Disclosures)

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