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Built-in mobile cybersecurity: from a luxury to a must-have

The Covid pandemic has reinforced the importance of cybersecurity, with the volume of cyberattacks ballooning over the past few years. While most of the coverage has been on organizational security concerns, a recent paper from Allot reveals that parents have heightened concern about cybersecurity in the home as well.

After surveying around 8,000 people from across 12 countries, they found that 56% of consumers actively want security to be a central part of their telecommunications package, which marks a significant increase on the same figure in 2020.

This desire for more home security is underpinned by the finding that around 25% of consumers have themselves been victims of a cyber incident. They're particularly concerned about things such as ID theft and unauthorized access to their financial information and bank accounts.

"Cybersecurity has gone from a luxury to a must-have. Consumers are aware of cyber threats on their mobile devices," the authors say. "Mobile security protection was ranked as the most important solution by 9 out of 10 consumers."

Support needed

Despite this strong desire for better security controls, however, the survey reveals that most consumers are confused by the options available to them and need considerable help in protecting themselves and their families. Indeed, a third of consumers revealed that they weren't even sure if their device even had a security application installed or not, with over 75% unsure how they can best protect themselves.

Of those who do have a security app, most are focused on anti-virus and malware applications. Very few had any services that limit their exposure to phishing attacks. Understandably, therefore, there was a high degree of confusion about the best solution for their needs and how they can access such a solution. Indeed, for many, there was uncertainty around who exactly should be providing security to begin with.

The authors believe that mobile providers are well placed to provide such security services, with many consumers actively looking to their provider to offer security as part of the connectivity.

Given the importance placed on security, consumers were accepting of the commercial importance of providing such services, with few expecting it to be a free part of their existing service provision. This means that consumers are quite happy to pay for service providers to offer this protection and take matters out of their hands.

Making the switch

"Consumers are even open to switching providers if the new provider offers the right security solutions," the authors explain. "This is a good opportunity for service providers, as many consumers switched providers within the past few years."

This is a key takeaway from the report, as traditionally, consumers tend to stick with their existing provider for a considerable time. Indeed, the survey found that consumers tend to stay with the same provider for around three years, so the fact that security provision could be the trigger to drive people to change is significant.

Telco service providers have traditionally relied upon the triple play of telephone, broadband, and television to try and win customers. This has been especially important to try and escape the race to the bottom driven by providers competing largely on price.

The ability to bundle security services offers the opportunity to add another layer to a firm's strategic offering, especially as hybrid working has made the prospect of people working from home a regular occurrence. This means that consumers are now demanding more from their internet providers.

For instance, Czech cybersecurity startup Whalebone partners with operators to provide a white-labeled offering to consumers. The company says that the offering is sufficient to boost the ARPU for the operators by around 5% in less than 3 months.

“Adoption of our cybersecurity products is comfortably over 50% in the markets we have targeted so far,” says company CEO Richard Malovič. “This shows that customers are clearly looking for protection from their telco operator, and by making it easy to access, our products offer providers a valuable extra revenue stream.”

Raising the game

At the Mobile World Congress (MWC), Huawei outlined the need for homes to have much more robust and powerful networks in order to power not only a dizzying array of entertainment options that have grown to include online gaming, HD movies, and immersive entertainment, but also a growing range of remote working tools, such as video conferencing and cloud computing. Their FTTR gigabit all-optical room solution promises to put fiber connectivity into every room in the house, thus allowing both partners and children to access high-speed internet for work, school, or entertainment.

Of course, this desire for more secure home networks has coincided with the tremendous rise in remote working during the Covid-19 pandemic that has seen our homes become extensions of our workplaces, with home networks, therefore, becoming extensions of our corporate networks.

"During the pandemic, we have seen more and more people work from home, which is a big challenge for companies, as when you put your devices outside of the network of the company, you're no longer protected by the network of the company," Laurent Celerier, EVP, Technology, and Marketing, Orange, said at MWC. "You no longer have any firewall, and you're usually directly on the internet, so being able to protect these devices is a corporate imperative."

The company developed solutions to provide endpoint detection and response for this market, and they have seen demand grow by over 200%, with this demand driven by the employer as much as by the individual themselves. Whether employers or employees are driving the demand, what is clear is that security is no longer a nice-to-have feature of home connectivity and instead has to be a fundamental selling point.

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