SOURCE: Airwide Solutions

November 25, 2008 08:00 ET

Security Risks Rise as Phones Become Smarter

Independent Study Reveals Number of EU Citizens Receiving Mobile Spam Has Increased to Almost 25 Percent in the Last 12 Months

BURLINGTON, MA and READING, UK--(Marketwire - November 25, 2008) - An independent study commissioned by Airwide Solutions, the leading provider of next-generation mobile messaging infrastructure and applications, reveals valuable insight into mobile security risks across the EU. The study which was conducted by comScore M:Metrics on behalf of Airwide Solutions looked at the way mobile subscribers use their phones across five European markets -- the UK, France, Spain, Italy and Germany. Although the study uncovers some risky trends, the results represent a major opportunity for mobile operators to play a proactive and strategic role in protecting their subscribers, both through education and also through the security solutions they deploy across their networks.

Of the most significant findings were the dangers surrounding mobile spam. Despite some mobile operators leading the way in deploying anti-spam solutions, the study found that there is still some way to go with the number of people in the EU receiving unwanted text messages growing 21.3 per cent year on year. With some spam messages containing mobile worms and viruses, this statistic is cause for concern, especially in France where the problem is growing by 61.3 per cent year on year.

The study also revealed worrying findings into the use of gambling and adult services by under 18 year olds. In total, Spain recorded the biggest problem with 4 per cent of 13 to 17 year olds accessing adult or gambling services between June 2007 and June 2008. The UK recorded the lowest problem with only 1.3 per cent of minors accessing inappropriate mobile internet sites. However, the study also notes that the figures may mask a more serious situation with many teenagers embarrassed or frightened to admit the truth.

With many people now owning smartphones, mobile phones are also being used to safeguard sensitive company information and personal data such as social security numbers, PIN codes, passwords, company financial data and other proprietary information. Many people are also now using them to carry out financial transactions. According to the study, 5.6 million people in the EU access financial information from their mobile phones -- a 23.6 per cent jump from the same time last year. Italy has been the fastest to embrace mobile banking services with a 30.2 per cent increase in use from June 2007 to June 2008. When we consider that mobile phones are stolen in half of all robberies in just the UK(1) alone, the need to protect this sensitive financial data has never been greater.

What the study has made clear is that mobile phones have now become a vital part of the way we live. Mobile phones are now far more omnipresent than personal computers, inherently more portable than other communications devices and carry far more personal and valuable data than ever before. In fact, on average a mobile phone in the EU is worth EUR 476.07 with a mobile subscriber spending EUR 401 a year on their mobile phone bill, EUR 69 acquiring their handset and EUR 6.07 on mobile content (ringtones, wallpaper, games, music etc). Spain registered the highest spending on mobile phone bills (with phone users spending on average EUR 544 per year), Italy recorded the highest spending on the handsets themselves (with an Italian mobile phone user paying on average EUR 148 for a mobile phone) and the UK topped the poll on the amount spent on mobile content per year.

The survey also found that while we are using our phones to take more photos and record more videos, we are at risk of losing these precious personal memories as the majority of people surveyed (50.0 per cent across Europe) do not back up their data.

Airwide Solutions helps mobile operators to tackle problems of mobile security through the company's comprehensive mobile security portfolio, part of its overall portfolio of integrated mobile messaging, applications and services. Airwide's suite of solutions provides mobile operators with the ability to instantly disable lost or stolen phones on the network, lock and wipe data from stolen phones, view the inventory of mobile phones on the network so that they can take better preventive measures against theft and fraud and finally protect mobile users from inappropriate content (including everything from preventing users from receiving spam and unsolicited messages, to stopping children browsing inappropriate mobile web sites such as gambling or adult content). And products like AirMessenger Personal from Airwide allow individual subscribers to personalise their settings to protect themselves from unwanted messages and spam as well as limiting the amount spent.

Jay Seaton, CMO at Airwide Solutions commented: "Mobile security is a threat that is continuously growing: pretending it is not an issue does not address the problem. With significant increases in the use of mobile phones both for personal and corporate use, mobile subscribers, parents and corporate organisations will need guarantees that their phones and data are secured. Whether to protect vulnerable users such as children with mobiles for family contact or to support corporates in fulfilling their duty-of-care to employees, operators are increasingly accepting a service responsibility to subscribers. This is an opportunity for fast moving operators to be on the forefront of addressing and ultimately containing this problem."

Alistair Hill, Analyst at comScore M:Metrics added: "This study proves that we all need to take the issue of mobile security seriously. Just from the research we carried out it is clear that we rely on our mobile phones to carry out a large percentage of our daily tasks. Ensuring we are protected from security risks is paramount. Solutions exist to help mobile operators to protect us through effectively policing their networks."

Airwide's mobile security solutions have been deployed in over 70 operators worldwide. More than 110 million subscribers are protected by Airwide and its systems have been integrated with every major networking vendor's hardware.

(1) http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime-victims/reducing-crime/robbery

About Airwide Solutions

Airwide Solutions is the leading provider of next-generation mobile messaging and wireless internet infrastructure, applications and solutions. Its products help more than 140 wireless operators worldwide drive mobile messaging usage and revenues and enable them to leverage multiple delivery channels and next-generation infrastructure in new and more powerful ways. With a history of industry firsts -- including the first text message ever sent, the introduction of the first SMS router, the first A2P MMS push gateway and mobile service control which enables mobile context, personalization and profiling -- the company continues to pioneer new technologies. Airwide's open, tiered Fusion architecture offers mobile operators advanced revenue options, a practical pathway to Mobile Messaging 2.0 and a foundation to bridge mobile messaging and the mobile internet.

Airwide Solutions operates globally with offices in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, India, the Middle East and Africa. For more information about Airwide Solutions, please visit www.airwidesolutions.com.

About Airwide's anti-fraud solution

Airwide's anti-fraud solution is a comprehensive security solution that uses real-time device intelligence and control to detect, investigate, and prevent handset-related fraud. It uses the rich capabilities of AirGuard EIR to flag and investigate security threats such as SIM cloning, handset cloning, and black market handsets. In addition, AirGuard EIR's device control capabilities allow operators to lock handsets to subscriptions thus reducing subsidy fraud, and deactivate and wipe data from handsets associated with any type of fraud, loss or theft, thereby reducing risk of compromised data.

In deploying an anti-fraud solution, operators are able to ensure that high-value devices on the network, for example iPhones, are only subsidised for use with a contract account and that they can lock the phones to specific post paid accounts on their network. Should a subscriber attempt to use a pre-paid SIM in an iPhone locked to a contract account, the phone will not work on their network.

About Airwide's content filtering and anti-spam solution

Airwide's content filtering and anti-spam solutions protect subscribers from unsolicited and offensive messages by using controls and filtering based on keywords and content types. They keep inappropriate content from ever reaching a mobile subscriber's handsets thereby protecting both subscribers and the mobile operators' mobile content and marketing revenues. With full control over SMS and MMS traffic, including person-to-person as well as application-to-person, the solutions ensure that messages are checked against viruses and inappropriate content. Using Airwide's solutions mobile operators can detect and block spoof and fake fraud and ensure that the correct accounting is applied between networks.

Airwide Solutions operates globally with offices in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and Africa. For more information about Airwide Solutions, please visit www.airwidesolutions.com.

Copyright © 2008 Airwide Solutions Inc. All rights reserved. Airwide is a registered trademark of Airwide Solutions Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Contact Information

  • For more information please contact:

    Brenda Suarez
    Airwide Solutions
    Email: Email Contact
    Tel: 781-229-2406 ext. 2731

    Gemma Yates
    Mi liberty
    Email: Email Contact
    Tel: +44 (0)20 7751 4444

    Kristin Conforti
    PAN Communications
    Email: Email Contact
    Tel: 978-474-1900