- Research highlights perfect storm brewing among regulators, governments, enterprise and consumer customers
- Current and future applications and services at risk if trust is broken
London, February 14, 2019: Research being presented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month will highlight the importance of trust to mobile operators. It will warn that current and future mobile services are at risk should the currency of operator trust be damaged.
Commissioned by the security experts at mobile network software company Mobileum, the research – carried out by three different analyst teams* – highlights the beginnings of a perfect storm centred on trust as governments and regulators around the world consider enforcing new measures on telecoms operators; and enterprise users and consumer customers begin to place more value on their personal data and the privacy of their mobile handsets.
However, the research also revealed a lack of coherent strategies to position and actively discuss network or Smartphone security among network operators. In contrast, there is mounting evidence of a clear demand from the users not only for protection of their data and their devices, but also for greater information and reassurance from the operator community.
“We asked three different analysts to look at the issue of network security and trust,” says Mobileum’s SVP, Security Business, Stephen Buck. “One looked at what governments and regulators around the world were doing, another at the attitudes of consumer and business users, while the last surveyed the operator landscape to see how security and protection was being positioned both online and in discussions.
“When we analysed the results, it soon became clear that the regulators are beginning to take action; that the users – consumers and businesses alike – want to hear about and see action; but that security remains a topic operators are usually reluctant to raise – despite an underlying belief that it could protect revenues and reduce churn in the long run.”
Buck feels this reluctance to promote new initiatives to protect the security of networks and handsets is in many ways understandable. “It’s not easy to talk about it without raising questions about what was happening before,” he says.
However, Buck believes that as technology gives the mobile handset an increasingly pivotal role in banking, payments, identity management and authentication, promoting trust in the handset, and in the network, becomes mission-critical for the operator business model.
“Trust is one of the operator’s most important currencies. It is a significant factor in brand loyalty,” says Buck.
“The trusted operator will keep customers onside and be trusted to deliver premium digital services,” he explains. “Any operator that is shown to fall short of the expected standards risks significant churn in the event of a security breach. The operator’s ability to recover trust will then depend on whether it knew about the vulnerability or risk in advance, and also how the security breach was dealt with once it happened”.
* Operator research by CCS Insight; Government and Regulator research by Harden Stance; Enterprise and Consumer research by MobileSquared.
Introducing the Research:
Partnering Government for Better Telco Security
This white paper by leading telco security expert Patrick Donegan, founder and principal analyst at Harden Stance, looked at global activity by governments and regulators and highlights a wave of legislation all over the world that is sparked by heightened fears of global cybercrime, the use of technology by criminals and terrorists, and the unauthorized use of private customer data.
It includes case studies from Norway, the UK and the USA, and also considers actions being taken in Saudi Arabia, Singapore, New Zealand and Poland.
The paper says that the industry should actually welcome this governmental interest. It suggests that in the absence of a security threat that poses a clear risk, investment in security is often deferred, and that security advice from industry associations is non-binding. Clear evidence and guidance from a national cyber-security agency, or a regulator representing the government, is often a lot more persuasive, the paper concludes.
E – [email protected]
M – +447 815 536 775
Security is Essential to Consumer & Enterprise Trust, Loyalty, and Service Usage.
MobileSquared spoke to nearly 1500 consumers and business users in the UK and Germany and uncovered a lack of understanding about who is responsible for network security as well as desire among the users to know and understand more.
Before being educated on network vulnerabilities – particularly the SS7 security weakness that has been the source of attacks on two-factor authentication systems – network security was very low on the list of reasons to select a mobile operator: tenth for consumers and sixth for enterprise customers. After being made aware of the weakness, security became a central reason for selecting an operator, and a prime reason to churn or stop using services.
A network that suffered a breach could face losing nearly 60% of its business users who said they would change or consider changing networks. Operator trust and the usage of services is also directly affected by any security breach. Some 77% of consumers and 86% of enterprises would lose trust in their operator; while 62% and 73% respectively said they would use services such as two-factor authentication less or seek an alternative so they could stop completely.
E – [email protected]
M – +447 976 057 052
Mobile Operator Positioning and Marketing of Network and Smartphone Security Services
This research revealed a surprising lack of coherent strategies for the positioning of network and smartphone security features and capabilities by mobile operators. Few showed any consistency in bringing products to market or articulating the benefits to their customers.
Despite this, many mobile operators have a long-term view that security can drive new revenue as well as minimise churn – with a clear belief that subscribers will pay for peace of mind. However, few have established the best way to communicate security to customers or at what stage of the sales process it might be best to have those conversations.
Furthermore, nearly all current operator marketing activity in this area is focussed on the handset and not the network. CCS Insight believes that customer’s growing knowledge of network vulnerabilities, data privacy, and cybercrime means that operators should actively look to raise their profile and credentials in this area. The report says that those that are prepared to do so could reap significant long-term reward.
E – [email protected]
M – +447 702 942 000
For more information:
Mobileum’s White Paper: “Trust – the Operator’s Essential Currency” is available as a free download. It includes further findings from all three pieces of independent research. Email: [email protected]
Stephen Buck, SVP, Securit