Mobile World Congress 2019: Q&A with McAfee Leadership

Next week, Mobile World Congress (MWC) will kick off in Barcelona. This year’s event will have an estimated 107,000 attendees, along with 2,400 exhibitors, all representing about 205 countries. While the focus of the event is mobility, we can expect the industry to continue to drive conversations around IoT, artificial intelligence, 5G, connectivity, and more.

As Europe’s biggest gathering in the IT sector nears, we spoke with McAfee leadership about the major themes we should expect to see at MWC this year and what it means for McAfee.

Q: Artificial intelligence and the new 5G standard have been the hot topics of mobility. Do you think these two topics will play an important role at this year’s Mobile World Congress?

Gary Davis, Chief Consumer Security Evangelist: Absolutely. With 5G starting to be rolled out, everyone is waiting on bated breath to see how that affects society and our ecosystems in general. With technologies like 5G enabling almost zero latency, more data will be collected and aggregated. Insights from that mass of data can only be gleaned by using AI-based solutions.

Radhika Sarang, Director of Global Consumer Product Marketing: 5G and AI should be hot topics of discussion at MWC 2019. I fully expect several products and services displaying both technologies on the show floor. 5G will be transformative in how we consume content, adopt new technologies, and connect with one another. However, this phenomenon will increase the need for redefining the concept of digital trust. Narrow or weak AI has grown leaps and bounds recently in areas of natural language processing, machine learning, and advanced analytics. These technologies are also enabling cybersecurity teams to foresee cyberattacks and create proactive solutions.

Q: This year’s theme for Mobile World Congress is Intelligent Connectivity. What does this term mean to McAfee? What does it mean for enterprise businesses?

Davis: For McAfee, we would interpret that to mean that for something to be intelligent, trust must be established. Without trust, intelligent connectivity fails to exist.

Nathan Jenniges, Senior Director of the Device Security Business: It means having access to information when and how you need it. Increasingly the “how” is through mobile devices. The “when” is not defined by traditional business hours, as people engage at all times of the day. They also use the same device for enterprise business as they do for personal business, which increases the level of risk to an organization. Inherent in intelligent connectivity is security. You can connect at any time. But to connect intelligently, you need to be confident the connection is secure and not increasing your risk. As an example, you could connect your mission critical equipment to any electrical outlet. But if you connected intelligently, you’d have some sort of surge protector, so you don’t destroy your mission critical equipment. The surge protector is equivalent to protecting mobile devices from attack when they are connected to organizational resources.

Q: At any industry event, we can expect to see announcements for new technologies and IoT devices. What can you tell us about new security challenges that may arise this year and beyond?

Davis: Most everything being built today is engineered to be connected. However, most manufacturers are solving for time to market and convenience, thus forgoing any meaningful security controls. This results in the rapid expansion of the attack surface, which bad actors will most definitely target.

Sarang: Security threat vectors are shifting and evolving alongside the growth of IoT among consumers, enterprises, and network providers. Hackers are always looking to find creative ways to monetize in this increasingly connected world. With predictions of over 50 devices in each household by 2020, we fully expect to see more DDoS attacks and IoT-based ransomware. And with the advent of 5G that promises to transform our digital lives, it’s imperative that security is addressed as a top priority by service providers to create consumer digital trust in an even more connected world.

Q: How will mobile impact the enterprise in 2019?

Jenniges: Mobile threats continue to increase at record-breaking levels with more and more vulnerabilities discovered every month. In alignment with the threat, more business work is being done on mobile than ever before as mobile devices quickly become the dominant endpoint device. These devices access the same information and contain the same information that a traditional endpoint does with zero protection. As an attacker, you will look for the most efficient attack path and mobile is clearly the new favorite path.


We’ll be making a splash at this year’s conference, so be sure to stop by booth #5A21 in Expo Hall 5, where we will host demos, giveaways, and more. Also, be sure to follow @McAfee and @McAfee_Home for real-time updates from the show and opportunities to win giveaways throughout the week.

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