Attack of the Phones: Combating Cyber Threats in the Era of Mobile Commerce

By on Jun 21, 2012

One of the hottest topics at this year’s Internet Retailer Conference and Expo was mobile commerce and, by extension, mobile payment technology. By lumping payment methods, loyalty cards, and coupons all into one location, services like Google Wallet, Passbook and ISIS™ make it easier than ever to shop online. Customers are now able to purchase just about anything with one tap on the screen of a smartphone or tablet.

Simply put: devices like smartphones and tablets have transformed the way businesses and consumers interact.  Not only are retail giants accommodating the growing mobile industry, but many are proactively tailoring their services to attract more of this business. The mobile commerce industry is expected to account for over $170 billion in sales by 2015, up from approximately $1 billion in 2009.  With hundreds of millions of smartphones being sold every year, businesses are wise to invest in their mobile sites, both in terms of user experience and consumer safety. The question is no longer how to integrate mobile commerce into customers’ daily routine, but how to protect them while they are browsing and using private information.

Who is at risk?

McAfee Labs’ Q1 Threat Report provides some unnerving data for those using smartphones. Some key points: The number of malware samples in McAfee’s database has shot up from less than 2,000 to more than 8,000 since 2011.

Nearly 7 out of 8 of attacks and malware are found on the Android platform, though Mac malware is clearly on the rise.

One key statistic of note is that almost none of these threats originated from the Android Market.  When launching your company’s mobile app, stick to well-established venues like the Android Market or the Apple App Store, reducing the risk of unwittingly exposing your customers to malware.

The Global Market:  How many phones are we talking about?

Data from the Q1 Report clearly shows that the most at-risk platform is Android.  If we look at a breakdown of the current market share for mobile phones from an International Data Corporation (IDC) report, Android also accounts for over 60% of smartphones globally.

The U.S. Market

A February Nielsen report states that approximately 50% of U.S. mobile subscribers own a smartphone, and of those smartphones, 48% are running on Android.

According to these numbers, Android users make up a significant portion of the smartphone market. Thieves are following the money as mobile commerce becomes a larger force, only increasing the dangers to Android and other smartphone users over time.

As customers are increasingly aware of the existing threats, many are hesitant to hand over their credit card information directly to websites. The task for retailers now becomes twofold. How can retailers both protect consumers from the inside, but also help them feel at ease about sharing their private data?

What it all boils down to:

 Vulnerability scanning options like McAfee SECURE™ service can help protect against malware threats and vulnerabilities and help organizations meet PCI compliance requirements. Additionally, the placement of a security seal shows visitors that their sensitive information will be handled responsibly – ultimately turning security-savvy shoppers into buyers.  Especially in regards to the booming mobile market, security measures are essential. McAfee SECURE service offers what businesses and consumers need to stay safe against data breaches and loss of personal data.

About the Author

McAfee

McAfee is the device-to-cloud cybersecurity company. Inspired by the power of working together, McAfee creates business and consumer solutions that make our world a safer place. Take a look at our latest blogs.

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