Like every other tech company with an interest in the mobile industry, we’ve been looking forward to Mobile World Congress this week.

Yes, it’s incredibly tiring and most people have had enough of the Fira after the week’s over, but it’s a fantastic event. After a somewhat quieter show last year in terms of new launches, we can’t wait to see a few flagship devices and announcements in Barcelona.

But while the unveilings of Microsoft’s first Android phone and Mark Zuckerberg’s call for free Internet will – deservedly – make the headlines, there are other equally important matters up for debate.

Applications have become central to the mobile economy over the last few years, which means their safe and secure delivery is crucial. Security generally doesn’t get a look in at MWC, yet it’s increasingly becoming a major issue for mobile users.

We commissioned some independent research last month to look into it in a little more detail, and the findings make compelling reading for operators.

What the study found was that half UK consumers have concerns about mobile security. And with the NSA revelations and the reports that spy agencies are mining data from smartphone apps such as Angry Birds, it’s shouldn’t come as a surprise.

What’s really interesting is how these security concerns look to be manifesting themselves in mobile users’ behaviours. When consumers are pick their mobile operator, security is the third major consideration, coming hot on the heels of pricing and network coverage. A massive two thirds (65 per cent) of respondents stated that security is more important to them than access to the latest model.

If their security is compromised, a third would point the finger towards their network operator, rather than company providing the app or service. And over half would jump ship as a result.

While huge sums have been invested in LTE, it’s no secret in the industry that 4G networks are inherently less secure than their 3G and 2G predecessors. Our concern is that not enough focus in being placed on addressing this.

Look out for posts from Lenny Burakovsky that discusses and highlights the steps we think operators need to take to ensure their customers get the best most secure experience possible, and eliminate any chance of defection to another network.