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Mobile operators’ consumer mobile security strategies

Mobile operators’ consumer mobile security strategies

Informa’s report on mobile operators’ consumer security strategies comprises a set of case studies linked by an executive briefing. The report seeks to provide an overview of the challenges facing mobile subscribers and mobile operators with regards to the security of the applications and personal data on subscribers’ smartphones; it will also detail the consumer mobile security strategies being pursued by the Tier-1 mobile operators Vodafone, Telefonica and Orange.

Smartphone penetration continues to increase. Informa forecasts that there will be 816.1 million smartphones sold globally in 2013, almost half (49.7%) of all devices sold during the year. Of these, Android-based devices will comprise the largest share, 573.4 million (70% share) of them are forecast to be sold in 2013.

Smartphones are mobile computing platforms, which means that these devices have become a target for viruses, malware and the other kinds of attacks that are common in the desktop computing environment. However, mobile subscribers associate their devices more closely with their mobile operator than do PC users with their provider of fixed-broadband services.

Consequently, mobile operators feel that it is incumbent upon them to proactively address their customers’ concerns about the security of the applications and personal data on their devices. In doing so, mobile operators may also be able to reduce customer churn and add to their revenues.

Please Note: Informa requires that clients sign a confidentiality agreement prior to fulfillment of all orders. Fulfillment may take 2-3 days after receipt of form.

Key points

Vodafone Group has embarked on a multifaceted consumer mobile security and privacy strategy in multiple markets, as it seeks to provide services aimed at safeguarding its growing smartphone user base.

The operator is offering two consumer mobile security services: Vodafone Protect and Vodafone Guardian, application-based services targeting Android devices. Vodafone Protect is also available on the BlackBerry.

Vodafone Group has teamed up with recognized PC-security-software vendor McAfee to provide Vodafone Protect as a co-branded service, which is available in five European countries and South Africa. Meanwhile, Vodafone Guardian is a free inhouse-developed application that is available in 17 countries.

Vodafone Group says mobile operators are well-positioned to provide security services to their subscribers, because mobile users tend to question their operator – as opposed to their handset manufacturer – if they have a problem with their device.

Corporate social responsibility and customer retention are two other key goals for Vodafone Group regarding its mobile security and privacy offerings.

Vodafone Protect is offered under a “freemium” model: some features are provided free, and an upgrade that includes antivirus protection is available for a monthly subscription fee. Vodafone Guardian is completely free.

Vodafone Group’s partnership with McAfee is designed to build on the software company’s brand recognition in the PC-security market. But the operator says it can differentiate itself from McAfee’s stand-alone offering by reducing barriers to entry regarding authentication and charging.

The operator has disclosed no metrics for Vodafone Protect or Vodafone Guardian. However, according to Google Play, in the 30 days to Feb. 4 Vodafone Protect had been downloaded 100,000-500,000 times and Vodafone Guardian had been downloaded 10,000-50,000 times.

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