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Studies - Alto
20 min read

Hardly any other device is entrusted with as much private information as one's own smartphone. This makes it all the more important to have comprehensive data protection features integrated into the operating system and to be able to customize all privacy settings. Only recently, the innovation leader Apple introduced new, stricter data protection rules on the iPhone operating system iOS. To the annoyance of data-hungry companies, customers can henceforth decide for themselves which apps are allowed to collect data for marketing purposes and which are not. Shortly thereafter, Google followed suit with its Android operating system. This is not the first time that Apple has presented itself as a pioneer in smartphone security and data protection.

We conducted a small study to find out what smartphone security is like for users in Europe. To do this, we evaluated relevant survey data, such as the prevalence of security systems or the use of privacy settings, from 25 European countries. This was then used to calculate a smartphone security score. The maximum score was 600 points. The closer a country comes to this value, the higher its smartphone security level can be rated.


High level of data protection in Germany, need to catch up in Spain

With a score of 439/ 600, smartphone users in Germany have an above-average level of security. 87 percent of Germans know that their smartphone has security features and privacy settings. 65 percent of respondents from Germany even actively use these features. 97 percent report that they have never had any problems with viruses or other malware. The data from Austria also shows a broad understanding of data protection and privacy on smartphones. Austria's smartphone security score is 412/ 600 points. 98 percent of Austrians know that they can adjust their privacy settings individually.

Northern Macedonia and Spain in particular need to catch up in terms of smartphone security and data protection. With a score of 216/ 600, Spain scores worse than average in a European comparison. Only one in three Spaniards even knows that many smartphones already have a security system preinstalled.


The distribution of Apple's iPhone has only a marginal influence on the level of data protection and security in Europe. Countries where Apple has high market shares, such as Ireland, Denmark and Norway, also score relatively highly in the smartphone security score. However, there are also individual exceptions, such as the United Kingdom. However, countries where Apple only has a small market share score comparatively poorly in the security score. These countries include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania and Spain, for example.


Country selection:
Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Northern Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Romania, United Kingdom

Factors, definitions and sources of survey data

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Security in the operating system:

Percentage of respondents whose smartphones have a security system integrated in the operating system

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Security through apps:

Share of respondents who have installed a third-party security system, such as an app provider, in percent

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Knowledge of smartphone security:

Percentage of respondents who know that their smartphone has a security system installed

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Active users:

Percentage of respondents who customize privacy settings Source: All information is derived from data from the Statistical Office of the European Union on "Trust, security and privacy - smartphones".

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Secure users:

Percentage of respondents who say they have never experienced security problems

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Market share Apple iOS:

Information on this was taken manually for all countries except Poland from Statcounter (as of August 2021). For Poland, Devise Atlas was used as a source.

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Advertisers have the option of accessing data on personal characteristics for targeted advertising. Advertisers can do this, for example, via social media or well-known search engines. However, individuals are granted a high degree of control by the GDPR over how advertisers can collect, store and use their data. The higher the score, the better a person can protect their personal data from advertisers. The data was taken from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development from the last twelve months.

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