Mobile & Online Security

What I learned at Mobile World Congress 2017

What I learned at Mobile World Congress 2017. Image by Vadim Ermak,
Written by Chris Koeneman

Chris Koeneman picked up a few important tips at the Mobile World Congress, notably regarding financial services mobile security.

Earlier this month, more than 108,000 global mobility professionals met in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2017. Hundreds of financial services firms were in attendance as well, leading to several discussions about mobility and what the industry is doing to protect its programmes. Two takeaways seemed to dominate conversations: a continued focus on security and the growing importance of rapid threat response.

Security continues to top the list of mobility concerns. Given the sensitive nature of financial services data, it isn’t surprising that 52% of financial services companies leverage expert mobility solutions – more than any other industry. In today’s market, there are dozens of software solutions available to protect endpoint devices and secure network access from breaches that average almost $4m in damages. Following these best practices can enhance even the most comprehensive enterprise security solutions:

Continuous network audits

Company-wide visibility and data control are must-haves for any financial services mobility effort. While external solutions help centralise data and empower management, internal administrators are largely responsible for enforcing user protections and ensuring network security. Performing regular network audits can identify potential vulnerabilities and prevent unauthorised access and usage that result from 85% of users who choose to connect to unknown and/or insecure networks.

Extending existing policies and permissions

Information technology (IT) departments are no stranger to user policies and file-sharing permissions. The challenge for enterprise mobility managers is successfully extending those policies and permissions to include mobile devices. In fact, 57% of employees either don’t consider device security or believe it isn’t important. Even something as basic as requiring device password/passcode authentication needs to be specified, as 65% of users fail to use one otherwise.

Remote wipe capabilities

Financial services organisations need to be prepared for inevitable worst-case scenarios where sensitive data can be lost or exposed. On average, 55% of enterprise mobile devices store confidential business information, and 51% of employees don’t take any action to protect it. A platform capable of integrating with, configuring and managing Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) software is the most effective protection on the market.

End-to-end encryption

Data security is a top priority for any mobility programme in this industry. An enterprise software solution needs to encrypt data both in transit and while stored, to prohibit file modification and manage mobile application access. If not, 67% of users choose not to install data encryption software on their devices.

Prioritising user experience

Even the most secure mobility solution can fail to protect a programme if it’s not user friendly. When considering expert software platforms, intuitive design and user experience need to be a high priority. Otherwise, 56% of employees will circumvent programme policy and download mobile device software from unknown sources.

Growing importance of rapid threat response

More than ever before, threat response rates were a central discussion topic at MWC. While securing a financial services mobility programme is crucial, knowing how to quickly identify and mitigate damages is becoming more important by the day. When an incident occurs, the first step for administrators is almost always correlating information from numerous systems and databases.

An ideal solution should rapidly pinpoint mobile device ownership and carrier network usage at a specific point in time, as exposed devices and non-compliant usage can then be quarantined and secured first. Industry-leading software platforms capable of viewing programme details from an employee perspective offer additional advantages. During a security inquiry or audit, critical information that goes overlooked by administrators and programme managers can be discovered, enhancing enterprise programme knowledge and security.

This year’s MWC taught me a lot about financial services mobile security and what the industry considers fundamental to successful programme management. While companies continue to search for the most comprehensive security software available, the ability to rapidly resolve issues will soon become a primary solution differentiator.

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Image by Vadim Ermak,

About the author

Chris Koeneman

Chris Koeneman is senior vice president at Mobi. He has extensive experience in developing go-to-market strategies for technology organisations, and has held leadership positions with AT&T, Intel and Cisco, among others, as well as innovative startups. Chris has led global teams focused on networking infrastructure, cloud services, and virtualisation solutions sold through OEMs, channel partners and direct, and has been part of two successful wireless acquisitions.

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