Forget flash-in-the-pan photo apps and games featuring animals with anger management issues, digital security is consumers’ next “must have”.
At least, that’s according to Telefónica Digital who have made it one of the central planks of their strategy as they attempt to generate €5 billion of revenue in the next few years.
Analyst houses seem to agree that it has a lot of potential.
ABI research calculates the embedded mobile device hardware security market will grow from €350 million this year to €1.2 billion by 2017.
Infonetics Research predicts the mobile security software market will grow at a “phenomenal” 41 percent compound annual growth rate over the next five years.
It says the desktop and mobile security software market will reach the €6.7 billion mark over the same period.
TD, in common with other operators, is developing a number of products to protect mobile devices and PCs against viruses and malware.
It said it will offer services such as content filtering and child protection, as well as promising to protect data through restoration services and devices via jamming and tracking services.
The company knows all to well about the potential problems.
In January, Telefónica’s UK-based operator O2 suffered a security breach that gave non-trusted websites the opportunity to access O2 customers’ mobile numbers.
The breach occurred for a two-week period after “technical changes” O2 implemented as part of “routine maintenance” caused “unintended effects”.
This was not, one suspects, what Vivek Dev, TD’s Digital Services Director, had in mind when he said at its recent press and analysts day that "there is a professionalization and gloablisation of threats".
However, it is clearly now trying to turn a problem into what Dev said is a “high growth” opportunity.
The company achieved €243 million of revenue from security services in 2011.
In Brazil, where it has been trialling such services, it has gained 675,000 customers by charging between €2 and €4 a month to protect their data and devices.
“From an end user point of view there is a willingness to pay – it is a must have,” said Dev.
Raj Samani, VP and CTO EMEA at security software vendor McAfee, agrees: “Most consumers are willing to pay for protection,” he told European Communications.
Last week, TD announced that it signed up Juniper Networks to provide its Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite for a European push.
British, German and Spanish customers will get anti-virus, anti-spyware, data back-up, remote lock-and-wipe, device locate and parental controls later this year.
Aside from O2's security breach, there are other consumer concerns to answer.
Cloudmark, a messaging security vendor, recently conducted research in the UK that showed a fifth of consumers felt the SMS channel was less secure than it was a year ago while over half said they did not have sufficient trust in the security of their devices to use them to pay for goods or services.
Cloudmark CTO Neil Cook told European Communications that “the most enlightened operators” are taking the lead by putting the consumer first and investing in solutions that allow them to prevent malicious, fraudulent and malicious content from ever being received or sent by their customers.
“Giving customers the tools needed to control how those security mechanisms apply to themselves and their families means that operators also have the potential to generate revenue from those security services,” he said.
He added that it was not just a mobile issue.
“Superfast broadband via FTTC/H and the drive towards IPv6 are opening up the potential for new threats,” he said.
Consequently, McAfee’s Samani said there is a need to enforce a “security connected vision” as everything “and I mean EVERYTHING” becomes connected.
“To put it simply, the need for security (and of course privacy) is fundamental to our way of life,” he added.
This is clearly one challenge for operators and others in the ecosystem.
Another could be the scope for abusing consumers’ fears.
“When [consumers] pay for security, [they] are paying 85 percent for trust and 15 percent for technology,” said Dev.
Another problem is that there are no international laws that govern digital security currently.
However, Cloudmark’s Cook believes the biggest challenge for success in digital security is altogether different.
“This is a race that can never be won and constant security innovation is the only way to protect against the equally constant innovation of threats,” he said.
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