Winding Down From Mobile World Congress 2017: Security and Usability

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Winding Down From Mobile World Congress 2017: Security and Usability

It’s been a non-stop week at Mobile World Congress Americas 2017. With dozens of business cards in our pockets, and our feet and jaws aching from three days on the floor, let’s look back on some of the highlights, and our favorite speakers and thoughts from the inaugural event.

Marcelo Claure “Security will be the biggest IoT challenge.”

One of the six key topics that this year’s conference focused on was Consumer IoT. And we can see why. The latest IDC data predicts that by 2020, global spending for IoT will hit $1.29 trillion. From smart watches and thermostats for consumers, to industrial options like vehicle tracking and connected farming, the IoT revolution is upon us.

Communication service providers are in the thick of this revolution. Beecham research has predicted that there will be a 20x growth in endpoints before 2020 “resulting in a huge rise in the data traffic requirements being placed on CSPs.”

Duane Gabor from VoltTB believes that in this huge industry, it will be Telco’s who take a large share of the market, because they are “the world’s leading experts on handling avalanches of data” as well as having the “infrastructure to handle these many devices simultaneously.”

But as you would expect, the opportunities are growing in parallel with the risks. As the CEO of Sprint, Marcelo Claure is a voice to be taken seriously, and we can see why he forewarned security rising to the top of the list of challenges in his keynote address this week.

Maribel Lopez “Multilayered Security is a must.”

We were eager to hear what kind of security suits this new hyper connected world, and Maribel Lopez is a thought leader in IoT, so hearing her take on this was extremely exciting. Talking as a mobile industry analyst at the Samsung Enterprise Showcase, she put an emphasis on multi layered security as an area which couldn’t be compromised on.

Over at our booth, we were also showcasing multi layered security, which Allot ServiceProtector uses as a foundation to protect IoT service continuity and guard against IoT based attacks, as part of our DDoS Protection. Not only do we use multiple methods to detect any unusual behavior coming from IoT devices, we also pinpoint the source of the anomalous behavior using Bot Containment, allowing the malfunctioning devices to be quarantined, before it can disrupt service or compromise network performance.

Eric McCarty “95% of organisations have employees seeking to bypass security controls”

Another stand out point from the congress was the need to balance security with usability. The ultimate goal must be safety of course, but we also want to keep customers happy.

As the world moves to 5G connectivity, everything is faster and more wide-reaching, and CSP’s need to stay on top of IoT traffic to minimise threat without causing any issues for the end user. This is what Eric McCarty, VP of mobile product marketing at Samsung was discussing during the week when he talked about the balance between what C-suite employees want, and the happiness of the end users. “C-suite are looking for devices and apps that are secure, customised and manageable for business while end users want a secure phone they can easily use for personal and professional life with privacy.”

The statistic by McCarty’s above, shows that currently, security features are obtrusive enough to create the need for customers to look to circumvent them. This is a clear sign that many security companies are failing at this balance, and indeed over 80% of companies have been successfully hacked in one way or another.

Exactly because of this kind of problem, when it comes to many users sharing a network, it’s essential to have security systems in place which are not only real-time, but can identify outgoing threats as well as incoming ones. Allot ServiceProtector detects and blocks bot-infected devices and computers that could be used to launch spam, denial of service attacks or propagate themselves to other devices connected to the network, all this hidden from the owner of the device. DNS blacklisting is prevented and the network is never overloaded with malicious traffic.

How Can We Solve This Paradox?

This certainly pleases the C-suite element, but what about the end users? There is no doubt that this years event saw exciting new developments in mobile technology which will make consumers extremely happy. Whether it’s the new iPhone X’s facial recognition technology, Virtulocity’s accelerated cloud connection network,  or even Keysight technologies industry-first Cat 18 LTE mobile hotspot, the future of mobile tech is exciting. But balancing all of this with security which doesn’t send the customer looking for ways around it simultaneously putting their networks at risk, is essential.

This was summed up simply by Carolina Milanesi from Creative Strategies earlier at MWCA17 when she said “there is a need for security that does not trump usability.”

This is what we are continually working towards. One great example is McAfee Unified Security powered by Allot. Our collaboration with McAfee gives users the freedom to move from mobile access to WiFi, and between various devices without restrictions, and yet still with transparent safeguarding measures in place. Another is our superior Allot Network Intelligence, allowing you to filter, blend and sort data into actionable analytics which let you really hear the unique voice of your customer, pre-empting problems before they become frustrating, and solving usability issues in real-time, as they arise.

MWCA17 is over, but the takeaways from the event will reverberate through the industry for many months to come. Check out in more detail how we are facing the challenges of the IoT for our customers and their networks.

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