I had an interesting conversation today about mobile security with Anthony O’Donnell from Insurance & Technology. In 2001, I got my first ‘web-enabled’ cell phone. With its WAP browser, I could basically read news and search Google, but little else. It worked at well below dial-up speeds, and wasn’t even a color screen. Today, I literally tell my phone what I want, and it retrieves it at speeds that put my home and office internet connections to shame, on a screen that makes me sad to go back to my HDTV. With apps now available that support crucial business functions such as e-signatures in PDFs (yes, there’s an app for that), smartforms, and even an app or two for agent access to policy administration systems and devices becoming more pervasive and more connected, it’s all but inevitable that mobile devices will erode the role of the laptop and desktop for consumers and agents dealing with carriers.
These devices are no longer futuristic or even fads. A huge chunk of the emails and social media posts I see today come from mobile devices from Blackberrys to iPads. In fact even the regulators are recognizing this with several states approving or close to approving the use of an electronic insurance ID card (e.g., showing a police officer your ID card on your iPhone). With this mobile explosion comes the opportunity for even more, with inexpensive telematics that leverage a smartphone’s Bluetooth and data connection, down to the use of existing agent laptops in the field leveraging phones’ Wi-Fi hotspots. Mobile devices may not only be the preferred channel of the future; they may be the dominant channel.
The security requirements for mobile aren’t necessarily novel, but rather are extensions of the security needs of the desktop, the Blackberry, the laptop, and the cell phone. When it comes to personal data, most consumers are perfectly happy to use the iCloud or Google to back up their important data and simply report their phone lost, but for enterprises the ability to wipe data from a phone is just the start. Remotely wiping only enterprise data from the phone of a terminated employee (without impacting the rest of the phone), installing anti-virus/anti-malware software, and providing and/or limiting access to the corporate network via the mobile device are just the start.
That being said, they need to be taken as seriously as those other platforms. As the lines blur between phones and tablets (for example, Samsung’s 5-inch smartphone/almost-tablet, the Galaxy Note) and between tablets and PCs (the iPad and especially the upcoming Windows 8 tablets), device usage by employees, agents, and customers will grow dramatically and mobile security will need to improve along with it.
This was one of the topics we covered in 2012 Council Meeting. To see our report from that meeting, click here.
To read Anthony O’Donnell’s article from Insurance & Technology, click here.