Network-based Security Services Give Mobile Operators a Competitive Edge

Security, Security, Security: The Top Three IoT Challenges Confronting CSPs
November 9, 2017

Network-based Security Services Give Mobile Operators a Competitive Edge

As the digital world becomes all-the-more pervasive, so does the threat landscape that accompanies it.

To the average consumer this can be pretty scary. Everywhere they turn, there are horror stories about phones, tablets and computers being hacked; about thousands of dollars draining out of private bank and credit card accounts; about home and business networks being jammed and put out of operation for days, either by viruses or ransomware, where computers are blocked until a ransom — often hundreds of thousands of dollars — is paid. That’s not the worst of it. Stories of on-line child abuse, of bullying, “sexting” and more, are making people think hard about how they can best protect themselves and their families from these cyber threats.

There are probably a bazillion apps for protecting smartphones and tablets from malware, ransomware, bad websites and all sorts of cyber hobgoblins. But this may be part of the problem. With so many solutions and choices, it’s becoming nearly impossible for the average user — who is not generally tech-savvy — to figure out what they really need to protect themselves and their families. When asked, a clear majority of users responded that they would rather have someone take this problem off their hands, giving them peace-of-mind, knowing that a trustworthy provider is keeping them safe online.

Mobile service providers who have come forward to be that trustworthy soul, have prospered. Let’s look at how and why.

As they say, it’s actually not rocket science. Service providers moving positively in this strategic direction, have noticed definite improvements on their bottom line.

Cyber criminals are always going to be at least one step ahead of security app developers. This is mainly due to the fact that cyber criminals are agile, operate from countries with easy-to-exploit (or non-existent) laws, and can mount massive aggressive attacks against millions of people at the touch of a button thousands of times a day. It’s also because individual users, who may well have anti-virus, anti-malware or hacker protection software installed, don’t really know how best to use it. Professor John Walker, who lectures in cyber security at Nottingham Trent University, states: “Microsoft releases its new patches on a Tuesday…by Wednesday the hackers have found new ways to get in.”

Updates are critical he states. But there are relatively few users who are patient or savvy enough to follow update instructions; don’t always see updates, and don’t even know that they have been hacked until it’s too late.

According to the 2017 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016, with mobile phishing being a significant source.

The continual increase in cybercrime represents an enormous opportunity for operators to take ownership of the security market, while generating recurring revenue streams and increasing brand loyalty. Let’s look at two scenarios:

Operator A offers customers a legacy app installed on the user’s device – phone, tablet, computer. The user pays a fee (monthly or one-off purchase) and goes away feeling happy and secure until the first time they are hacked or infected with a virus. The consequences of that can be a sorry tale of loss of usage, changing phones (or at very least passwords); inconvenience, disappointment and anger, recriminations, the operator can lose a valuable customer and so on and on.

Operator B on the other hand, has made a strategic decision to take control of the security environment, and now offers customers his own cloud based network security service (for a small monthly fee). Result? No hacks, no viruses, no break-ins: just satisfaction and peace-of-mind. Moreover, the customer doesn’t have to do anything. This particular CSP has gone even further. They regularly send their users easy-to-understand statistics about how many potential attacks were averted during the month; how many times little Johnny tried to get around parental controls; how many “sexting” messages were blocked or how many malware attacks were thwarted. These are things that consumers appreciate and to which they react positively.

The results of our latest Allot MobileTrends Report: Building Revenues Differentiation, and Brand Loyalty with Security as a Service offers “proof-of-concept”.

 

We found that mobile operators delivering Security as a Service (SECaaS), enjoy a 2-3-fold increase in customer satisfaction over those who still offer a legacy app-based security model. Despite the millions of marketing dollars ploughed into promoting legacy apps over the years, it’s clear that consumers are not impressed. Typical penetration rates for legacy apps are recorded at only 3%-5%. In contrast opt-in security services achieve penetration rates of 12% to 15%, while “Promotional” opt-out services — where “opt out” is permitted by local legislation — perform even more impressively with penetration rates of 50% to 60%. These results are achieved when the service is activated from within the network and all the customer has to do is agree to try it out. Mobile operators rolling out Security as a Service seem to have found the right model to build a sustainable competitive advantage.

The Allot Report also found that 61% of global respondents said they would like to buy a security service from their CSP.

The bottom line is that the effort and costs required to motivate customers to install, activate and pay for an app-based service are often cost prohibitive. Security as a Service, on the other hand, with the right tools and expertise provided by a supplier with long and trusted experience in the field, is a far better and more effective alternative!

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