Nearly nine in ten (89 percent) mobile phone owners are unaware that some smartphone apps can transmit personal details such as credit card numbers without the user's knowledge or consent, says AVG.

Research conducted in the US by the security firm, in conjunction with the Ponemon Institute, also revealed 91 percent were unaware apps can be infected with malware specifically designed to steal banking details.

Furthermore, 29 percent admitted they store details regarding their credit and debit cards, such as card numbers or account details, on their handset, while 35 percent store 'confidential' work documents on their mobile phone. Nearly three in ten (28 percent) 28 percent claimed to be unaware that using their smartphone for business and personal reasons can put business information at risk.

AVG also said over half (56 percent) of mobile phone owners did not know that failing to log off properly from a social networking app could result in a hacker being able to post content to their profile or change personal settings without their knowledge. Meanwhile, over a third (37 percent) said they were unsure whether their social networking profile had been manipulated because of this.

"The findings of this study signal what could be an overlooked security risk for organisations created by employees' use of smartphones," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of Ponemon Institute.

"Because consumers in our study report that they often use smartphones interchangeably for business and personal, organisations should make sure their security policies include guidelines for the appropriate use of smartphones that are used for company purposes."

JR Smith, CEO of AVG Technologies, said: "The mobile internet does not have to be a risky environment." Mobile phone owners could stay safe downloading low-cost or free antivirus products specifically designed to protect mobile data, Smith added.

AVG already offers its own free security softwrae aimed at Android smartphone, AVG Antivirus Free. However, the security firm has launched a new version of the software speicifically for tablet PCs. The software, which can be downloaded from the Android Market, scans apps, settings, data and media files in real time looking for viruses and other malware

"Mobile devices are more personal than your computer at home, as it goes next to your wallet and your house keys and contains relevant data, your contacts, your family photos and memories," said Omri Sigelman from AVG.

See also: Android users must be wary of personal data-stealing apps