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Can You Trust Your Phone?

Mobile security. It’s the elephant in the room regarding everything from mobile payments to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). In the Mobile Security Panel at GMIC SV, Chenxi Wang (VP & Principal  Analyst, Forrester) explored implications, caveats, and the future of mobile security with panelists Connie Chan (Partner, Andreessen Horowitz), Kevin Mahaffey (Founder and CTO, Lookout), Ajay Mishra (Co-Founder and Chief Customer Office, MobileIron), and Nasrin Rezai (CTO Security, WW Security Architecture, Sales at Cisco Systems).

The core takeaway about mobile security’s future is that it is an emerging field, and it faces many pivotal decisions that will heavily impact how we use mobile technology in the future.

The results of these pivotal decisions were clearly laid out by Kevin, as he discussed two futures we could be heading towards. With regards to how consumers could treat their phones in the future, he stated “In one world, they don’t conduct business on their phones, don’t bank, don’t buy apps. In another world, they trust their phone not to betray or track them”. It’s quite a stark contrast, but one that is growing ever more important with the advent of location-based ads and aggregate app usage analysis. Who knows what could follow next?

Connie believes that the mobile landscape will begin to resemble the PC landscape – right now we don’t rush out to put an antivirus on your phone when you get it, but in the future it could be a very real possibility.

As the mobile platform becomes an increasingly large source of content consumption, Ajay believes that it is important to look to the future where consumers are going, and to prepare accordingly.

Kevin had a great approach to privacy: “The secret in my opinion of never running into privacy issues: don’t surprise your users”. It’s a simple to follow philosophy, and it ensures there are no nasty surprises if there is a security compromise in the future.

The question now, and for the future, is can you trust your phone? It’s a complex question which might not have a definite answer. From NFC payment security to drive-by browser attacks to information plundering, our mobile phones are an increasingly sensitive target.

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