Remember ages ago (or what seemed like ages ago) when people fretted over the safety of buying items online? What about the security risk? Well, times have changed significantly in a short amount of time. Nowadays, it’s not merely that people accept online purchases…they are now trusting their mobile devices—portable systems—more than their PCs. Why is this?
In the Beginning There Was No Security
First consider why we know (or at least used to think) that PCs were safer than mobile devices or cell phones. PCs are what introduced us to the concept of online transactions. Because PCs were locally based, and hardwired, they were always perceived as safer means of communication than using a cell phone. (Much like a landline was considered safer than a cell phone) Even when WI-FI was introduced it was considered highly unsafe, because of potential breaches and hacking.
However, as technology improved and people became used to the concept of online transactions (made possible through brand name companies that stood by said transactions, like eBay, PayPal, Amazon and so on) eventually a shift occurred. We were introduced to secure systems and ultra-secure hardware, as in Linux (a Windows alternative so simple and protected, it was the government’s choice) as well as the Blackberry device, and the VPN (Virtual Private Network) option, which scrambled IP tracing and encrypted information.
And yes, when the iPhone and other notable mobile units first came out, there was a great deal of trepidation about relying on 3G or WI-FI to conduct business. iPhones and particularly unprotected WI-FI connections were said to be highly dangerous in comparison to hardwired PCs. Blackberry was singled out as the best choice in secure usage, followed by the Linux-derived Android system. The Blackberry in particular earned a great deal of ink for being “too secure,” thanks to modern encryption technology. In fact, a recent article at ZNet reported how the Indian government’s intelligence services can’t even break the Blackberry’s encryption in hopes of counteracting terrorists threats.
Another issue that bears consideration: more people are starting to trust their mobile phones and tablet PCs than their own desktop computers. Why? Sure, desktop PCs have the hardwiring and the tight encryption…but users are now so protective of their smartphones that they are avoiding taking risks downloading suspicious apps. A survey by Metaforic reported that 12% of users stated that the effort and security questions of downloading apps didn’t justify the convenience for online banking. However, 14% of the users said that using a PC system prevented them from accessing online banking.
More Changes Ahead
It’s easy to see the potential for abuse here; Google’s Android system is so open to third party developers that it is now considered one of the most insecure systems for popularity alone—despite a fairly secure system, better than old iPhones.
On the other hand, mobile banking allows users to securely access their accounts in confidence; they always know where their devices are, and hardly ever leave it unattended. The mobile banking sector, for instance, is now tied to an individual. There is no middle man. Furthermore, fast fraud notification and geo-location features are preventing fraud from taking place.
And just remember this. In the coming years, biometric based security will grow significantly. It’s not going to be for desktop computers—it’s going to be for mobile systems. We’re already getting devices like the Ice Cream Sandwich, which actually relies on a person’s face to unlock the phone. Siri for Apple already recognizes voices, and more is coming in speech to text technology.
Lastly, consider that Decisive Analytics compared the latest iPhone and iPad designs and actually declared them more secure than the Blackberry. Now how’s that for rapidly advancing technology?