Once upon a time a mobile phone was something we used for talking. Today making a call ranks sixth on the list of most common uses for a mobile phone. Now there’s a new kid on the block that, in time, will push making a call even lower down the list. Mobile payment, or m-payment, is taking off. Early adopters like Starbucks already attribute significant revenue gains to their investment in mobile. Although overall mobile payments adoption and usage rates are still a fraction of standard credit/debit card transactions industry watchers expect this to change very quickly.
For many years industries like oil and gas, electricity, agriculture and utilities have relied on operational communications infrastructure outside the main corporate network to collect data and provide supervisory control. Known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems the data they collect leads to efficient allocation of resources, monitors safety conditions and improves operational decision-making. But now, with the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, industrial organizations are eager to deploy new wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) devices to collect even more data from field assets in remote, geographically dispersed locations. The number of sensors and data points in industrial networks looks set to multiply exponentially overnight. As a consequence, there will be more access points than ever before. Security, therefore, will be an important factor in determining the overall success of IoT deployment.
Ever since Edward Snowden revealed the extent of state-sponsored espionage over the Internet in 2013 businesses have been acutely aware of just how vulnerable data communications are to being intercepted. It is no coincidence that in the same period cybercriminals have also stepped up their attempts to spy on organisations. For example, the use of Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) malware and ransomware to try to capture valuable financial or customer data for financial gain has risen dramatically. While no defense method is ever 100% impregnable the risk of snooping and theft of sensitive data can be significantly reduced by encrypting it using VPNs.
Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops, hotels, railway stations and airports have become a welcome resource for any business traveler, providing them with a convenient means to carry on working while on the move. Employers, in turn, are increasingly happy to embrace the accompanying productivity benefits. Over 80% of enterprises now allow employees to use personal devices to connect to corporate networks.
Yet public Wi-Fi has a dubious security reputation. Even with password protection, public hotspots are an open invitation for anyone with illicit intentions to snoop and intercept data communications to their heart’s content.