Mobile security

LTE Brings Myriad Security Concerns

The good news about LTE is that it's an all-IP network, which mean it's as high-speed and robust as broadband. The bad news is that it's an all-IP network, which means it's exposed to both the threats of a broadband network and those unique to mobile.

In fact, in a recent Light Reading poll, our community members had a hard time agreeing on just one mobile security concern for LTE. When asked, just over 20 percent said that criminals stealing sensitive customer information was their biggest security concern on LTE, but that was followed closely by 17.5 percent who were concerned about attackers triggering network outages and degradations and 16.5 percent who said that insecure mobile operating systems and apps were their biggest concern.

Another 14.6 percent were worried about human error -- customers unknowingly downloading malware that can affect the network. But, most people trusted the established protocols, with only 9 percent suggesting they could have vulnerabilities.

Taking out those 18.9 percent of people who didn't know what the biggest mobile security concern for LTE was, as well as those 2.8 percent that voted "other," here's a snapshot of how the rest voted:

We will be holding our next live chat on this very topic on Thursday, November 14, at 11:00 a.m. EST/8:00 a.m. PST with Heavy Reading senior analyst Patrick Donegan, who will also be leading Light Reading's Mobile Network Security Strategies conference next month in NYC. We'll be discussing important issues like how real each of these threats are, what operators can do about them, and what they mean for end users.

You can join the chat on Thursday, right here on our Live Chat Message Boards.

Be sure to join us for both events and bring your questions on LTE security. In the meantime, brush up on the mobile security market with our extensive coverage below. Hope to see you there.

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— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Kruz 11/13/2013 | 10:03:14 AM
Re: Network outage vs stealing of customer data Agreed. It not always an issue of a lesser developed banking systems in developing countries. In many countries where credit card penetration is low (as it requires a certain financial status of some financial commitments), smartphones and features phones penetration is high. For feature phones, mobile money through the SMS channels is picking up (mainly for micropayments).
RitchBlasi 11/12/2013 | 1:40:30 PM
LTE Security And let's not even get into the healthcare industry, where people are more security conscious than banking.

Lesser developed countries also were earlier adopters because when they were investing in their infrastructure, mobile/wireless was a better option than fixed.  And they are smaller than the U.S. too...right...so coverage and investment in wireless made more sense.

As all of you so rightly stated, yes LTE has its own benefits and issues and one of the reasons why so many of the overhyped stuff, like VoLTE are still waiting for their curtain calls.  There is a big difference between the government getting usage detail data vs hacking an LTE network to monitor actual conversations.

Security is uppermost in the mobile carriers minds as they understand there is no falling back to something else if the network gets hacked.  The encryption placed into existing communications networks is far better than IP networks and while viruses never impacted a mobile device, that might change.

Looking forward, I believe the mobile ecosystem together is looking at security - devices, apps, services, networks, should all have their own security protocols built in so it would be like having to program multiple connections to get into the network and then down to a user level.

I wonder what the OTT guys are doing in this area?  :-) 
Carol Wilson 11/12/2013 | 10:58:38 AM
Re: Network outage vs stealing of customer data Certainly markets without highly developed banking systems are easier targets for mobile money which is why it is much more prevalent in Africa and other developing countries. There are other challenges to adoption of mobile commerce here including dueling approaches by the wireless providers and the struggle for control among the various players. 

But security is a factor in choosing a mobile money approach and being able to guarantee the security of sensitive financial information is one of the stumbling blocks to widely deployed mobile commerce in developed nations, where regualtory requirements are also likely to be much stricter. 
Sarah Thomas 11/12/2013 | 10:54:48 AM
Re: Network outage vs stealing of customer data Do you think the security concerns are worse here (or platforms are less secure?)? I always thought banking took off more in developing markets because there was more of a need - mobile is their primary or only connection to the Internet and they don't have established banking like in developed markets. I haven't heard much about the security angle there, but I'm curious what the differences are.
Carol Wilson 11/12/2013 | 10:50:33 AM
Re: Network outage vs stealing of customer data Security is also one of the big potential impediments to mobile commerce. It's interesting to me that in my parts of the world, phones are already being used as wallets, but not here in the US. And some folks are saying that's because of security concerns. 
Sarah Thomas 11/12/2013 | 10:23:24 AM
Re: Network outage vs stealing of customer data That's true, Dan, and I think those two things are often linked and happen together.

We'll likely focus on network security issues during the chat, but as a consumer, I also want to know what to do to protect myself or not, unknowingly, invite problems on my phone.

I just saw a report about some 252 new threats to Android. Makes me glad I switched back to the iPhone: http://www.lightreading.com/mobile/mobile-security/f-secure-finds-252-new-android-threats/d/d-id/706544
Sarah Thomas 11/12/2013 | 10:21:02 AM
Re: Will integrated operators have an advantage? I think that's a good question, Ray, and I'll be curious to hear what Patrick says. My guess is that it should be an advantage, but with the silos that exist within operators, may not be in practice. It should be something they're working on.

DOShea 11/12/2013 | 9:09:47 AM
Network outage vs stealing of customer data Sign of the times that the theft of customer data is about as concerning as the fear of a service outage. Mobile customers have much more to lose than just connectivity now from a network security breach.
[email protected] 11/12/2013 | 7:17:26 AM
Will integrated operators have an advantage? Mobile operators will have unique security issues to dela with in their 4G networks but some of the challenges will be those familiar to the fixed broadband network operators, so does that mean those carriers with both fixed and mobile operatoins teams will have an advantage in tackling the network security challenges that come with a 4G rollout?

I'll ask that question of Patrick Donegan during the live chat on Thursday -- join in! Anyone who is registered to Light Reading can join in and ask questions/post comments.


Live Chat -- Mobile Network Security in a 4G World


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