Data mining has surged in importance in recent years, as consumers and businesses create more raw information than ever before. Businesses in every sector must take advantage of these resources in order to gain critical industry and audience insight.
The opportunities for achieving this level of awareness are growing. As a recent McAfee study found, many Australian Android users enable data mining through their apps, CNET reported.
Data mining available
The study found that users now allow companies to mine their personal information much more than in years past. According to the news source, more than 50 percent of mobile users let apps access photo collections stored on their Android devices. An additional 43 percent permit access to personal contact information, and 38 percent allow firms to access contact lists. More than two-thirds of participating users allow apps to determine their physical locations.
In light of this permissiveness, it is not surprising that organizations' apps are conducting extensive data mining. For example, the study found that nearly two-thirds of mobile apps can determine a user's wireless carrier, while 59 percent are capable of tracking the user's most recent known location, CNET reported.
Furthermore, McAfee determined that among Australian Android users' apps, approximately one-quarter can determine the device's SIM card number, and a similar percentage document and transmit information concerning which other apps a given user opens, according to the news source. Other examples of data being mined include WiFi usage and data network access. All told, 82 percent of examined mobile apps read and collect user information to some degree.
These statistics highlight the potential value to be gained by utilizing data mining strategies in conjunction with mobile apps. Businesses that engage in these efforts can develop a more textured, detailed understanding of who their customers are and how they behave. This in turn can lead to better services, products and marketing efforts.
However, to achieve a high level of effectiveness in this area, firms must invest in and deploy high-quality data mining solutions. To this end, using robust numerical libraries may prove essential, as these resources provide critical mathematical and statistical functions for both data mining and analysis.
It is important for organizations interested in pursuing app-based data mining efforts to take significant precautions to guarantee the security of their software offerings. This is crucial not only in order to protect users' information, but also to earn their trust.
CNET noted that while many smartphone users are perfectly willing to allow app developers to mine their data, many others are simply unaware that they have granted this permission, while still others are not comfortable with this notion. When asked directly, 34 percent of McAfee survey respondents said they would be willing to share their personal information if this would lead to "better, more detailed service." A slightly smaller percentage said they would offer this data to firms if they received a discount from the company.
Speaking to the news source, Michelle Dennedy, chief privacy officer for McAfee, emphasized the need for users to exercise caution when enabling data mining.
"When a user gives an app access to information stored on their phones, it's important to consider exactly what information that app should realistically need in order to operate – for example when downloading a game, think whether the app really needs access to your contacts," said Dennedy, CNET reported.
Such advice is becoming increasingly common as awareness of cybersecurity risks grows. The news is frequently awash with reports of data breaches, with the most notable recent example being the massive cyberattack that struck Target. Hearing about such incidents is causing the average consumer to adopt a more cautious attitude toward his or her mobile and digital behavior.
In order to encourage users to continue to enable data mining even as privacy concerns evolve, firms must make a committed, demonstrable effort to improve their cybersecurity standards. To achieve this goal, the use of high-end software security solutions is imperative. By embracing these tools and publicizing their use, businesses can effectively assure their customers that data gained via mobile apps will remain safe and protected at all times.