Mobile security – what do consumers really think?

Last updated: 29 October 2019

The convergence of industries in the mobile world is more prevalent than ever before. Mobile’s place at the center of modern society is practically inescapable, as staying connected is an essential part of everyday life. This is unsurprising when you consider how our phones and supporting wearables enhance our ability to buy products, bank, entertain, capture life’s moments and, of course, communicate.

And it’s not just businesses getting involved. Governments are also part of the mobile revolution now—evidenced by the emergence of mobile ID initiatives, such as the introduction of mobile driving licenses in the USA. It’s clear mobile devices have quickly become the primary way we engage with the world.

In many ways, this continued convergence has allowed mobile devices and apps to give brands a whole new way to convey themselves. This in turn has led to a phenomenal level of growth in mobile use over the past decade. But what are the risks that could come with this? Unfortunately, this growth in mobile use has brought an increasing number of opportunities for cyber-attackers.

A growing number of highly valuable and security critical services are now available through our mobile devices (e.g. mobile banking, payments and ID).  Hackers consequently know a successful authentication data breach through a mobile device would allow unauthorized access to sensitive online resources. In particular, hackers will seek access to financial details, social network logins, and mobile network account details; all together, this can sometimes be enough to enable complete identity fraud. This threat is particularly pertinent now as app development is continuing to rise; 90% of companies will increase their investment in mobile apps by the end of this year.

There is undeniable need to protect business resources now, along with IP and users’ private data, especially as there are so many devices in the field now that are vulnerable to malware. If we ignore this priority, we leave end users and businesses in particular in the crosshairs of these attackers, who are becoming ever more resourceful and innovative. They are specialists in spreading malware, exploiting non-official app stores, infecting emails, distributing fraudulent SMS messages and infiltrating browsers, and they won’t hesitate to exploit any weakness. This is why app providers need to adopt a vigilant attitude towards these threats and help consumers feel safe with solutions that effectively protect against vulnerabilities.

But how do we choose what type of security is needed? How do we know what end users need most and are most vulnerable to? How can we know what security solutions consumers will embrace and be comfortable with? All important questions, which is why we commissioned a study of over 1,300 adult smartphone users across six key markets around the world: Brazil, UK, South Africa, Singapore, the Netherlands and the U.S.

We asked these consumers to provide insights into their mobile behavior and security expectations. We sought to discover how consumer expectations would have an impact on those providing applications and the infrastructure for mobile applications and services, namely banks, governments and any other large enterprises providing apps for users. The findings have helped us achieve a more in-depth understanding of what is needed in order to secure the future of the mobile revolution.

Since the completion of the survey, we’ve worked to summarize and analyze these findings into a report offering a series of recommendations to help us build greater trust in the mobile ecosystem and deliver a secure and convenient experience for users. An experience that will allow the mobile revolution to continue, develop and amaze us all, without hindrance from hackers.

Two eye-catching example insights from the report:

  • 70% of end users would use digital identity documents on their smartphone, such as passport or national ID card, if they knew all apps on their phones were 100% protected
  • 66% say they would perform more transactions if they knew mobile security was on board with their devices

Clearly, there’s considerable opportunity still out there for further growth. It’s just a matter of ensuring security for those who are keen to embrace a wider use of their smartphones. Our report addresses how we can do this directly by giving specific recommendations for how we can build the trust with consumers. It’s now available online in an easy-to-read eBook. You can download it here.

We’ll of course be discussing this topic further on the blog, so make sure you keep an eye out for the next post in this mini-series where we’ll be assessing end users’ views on authentication and digital identity documents. We’ll be revealing further analysis into what these views could mean for banks, governments and any large enterprises which develop apps for their users – so stay tuned!

For more information, or to share your thoughts on mobile software security, feel free to tweet to us @GemaltoMobile, or leave a comment below.

One thought on “Mobile security – what do consumers really think?

  1. How does a consumer know a branded app is trustworthy? I’ve just run into a third-party developer who has several unauthorized apps for high-brand-recognition properties on the Google Play Store. Conversely, how does/should a brand owner remain vigilant against these interlopers, who can conceivably grab customer information (and who knows what else)?
    This is an issue I just verified from a consumer end, after having one of these apps on my phone for several months… and I’m a relatively savvy user. This suggests that there is room to address the issue from a brand-owner’s/service-owner’s perspective.

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