Training is the vital antidote to any knowledge gap, but when it comes to mobile security our survey found it was uneven and complex, making it harder for industry professionals and retail staff to provide adequate support.
Surveys of both the iSellMobile membership and Mobile readers found that nearly half hadn’treceived any training at all. Training was far higher in the Mobile readers surveyed, with software security the main area of expertise for both groups. There was a worrying lack of knowledge about operating systems, hardware and network security across the board.
One respondent to the Mobile readers survey said they found that a major problem was the complex differences within the market: ‘The issues are knowledge gaps, complexity brought on by too many variants of similar or same OS, and speed of change in the industry.’
For store staff this breadth of choice can be a real issue too, as one respondent to the iSellMobile survey explained: ‘I find the choice and selection most difficult. If I was to recommend something and it went wrong or they got hacked, I would be to blame in the customer’s eyes, as I recommended it.
Awareness was another issue that store staff pointed out, with some saying they weren’t sure of the approach from certain players in the market: ‘The problem is I’ve not seen any official statement from the network providers or manufacturers.’
Another significant challenge when it comes to mobile security is the apathetic view that mostconsumers have towards the issue. As consumers have moved from the desktop computer to the tablet and mobile phone, they have also left behind a sense of threat and willingness to spend money protecting something you carry around in your pocket. While consumers might worry about leaving their phone on a restaurant table, they would think little about joining a dodgy WiFi network.
The problem of apathy is one that retail staff and industry professionals have to battle with every day. This response from one of the iSellMobile members revealed: ‘Customers feel they don’t need it if they haven’t run into any issues before.’ The sentiment was reflected by a comment on the Mobile survey: ‘Customers are also in many cases very lackadaisical about security, either not understanding the risk or not identifying just how big a risk this is.’
It’s an issue that extends from the shop floor to the boardroom. O2 CEO Ronan Dunne explained that no matter how hard his business tries, consumer apathy remains a challenge: ‘We have to make sure we take the balances, providing the support required and the knowledge to help people to help themselves versus taking ownership of the responsibility that people need to take online.
‘We can’t monitor individual’s behaviour on a day-to-day basis. And let’s be honest about it, people could use little things to be safe on a day-to-day basis and they choose not to. All we can do is nudge people to think about these things, but ultimately it’s up to people to be responsible for their own actions.’
Unwilling to cough up
After apathy, the next biggest challenge facing those concerned with mobile security is cost.Customers are simply not as willing to pay for security as they were in the days of desktops andlaptops. According to our survey, industry professionals are far more emphatic in their belief that additional security needs to be bought to ensure total mobile security, with around 90% of those surveyed revealing that they thought it was necessary. Fewer retail store staff felt it was needed, however, with just over half stating that to be fully protected you needed to invest money.
Retail store staff explained that cost was a major barrier for customers when it came to security,because so many of them believed that they simply didn’t need it. One comment was: ‘People are against paying extra for additional security.’ Another explained that customer perceptions were a major stumbling block: ‘The hardest part is telling them that you have to pay for a decent level of protection, as they think you are trying to sell them something else, even though you aren’t.’
Some respondents from the Mobile readership said they also found pricing prevented people from properly protecting themselves: ‘Sometimes when you want a decent security app or third-party app you will have to pay a lot for it. If a lot of the security products were a little cheaper they would be far more appealing to businesses and consumers.’
The iOS nature of the UK market has also played a role – Apple’s strict control of its productecosystem has meant that it is rarely breached. However, consumers don’t necessarily realise that they are paying for this enhanced security when they purchase Apple products. It means that they take less of an interest in it and assume they are safe. It also means that people are unwilling to pay for security for other brands, assuming they are as secure as Apple.
White noise and reputation
The frequency at which well-known and trusted brands are hacked is now at a level where thenegative impact is quite difficult to calculate. The stigma is no longer what it was and, despite the aftermath with days of bad publicity and social media backlash, companies’ reputations remain in the longer term.