Mobile Is The Next Target For Cyberattacks… And Cybersecurity Startups

Last month in the City of London’s traditional and beautiful Guildhall, the 15th Century building was host to a very modern event, the Innovative Finance Global Summit.

In the heart of Europe’s financial capital, the Pitch360 startup day saw 24 FinTech startups across eight sectors including subjects such as Aritifcial Intelligence, global inclusion and cross-border payments.

Shortlisted from an impressive number of entries, their mission was to impress four judges in front of a knowledgeable, if non-voting, audience.

The winner was GuardSquare, a mobile cybersecurity company that protects consumers’ Android mobile applications against reverse engineering and tampering. Thia decision at one of UK’s most prestigious FinTech events only underscores the growing ecosystem of mobile cybersecurity.

Investors are beginning to realise as well. Earlier this week, Wandera, an ‘enterprise mobile security and policy’ company raised £22 million in Series C funding, bringing total investment in the company to almost £40 million.

“Mobile risk control, including threat defence, is a rapidly growing market and enterprises must prioritise an investment in mobile security solutions to ensure mobile employees have secure access to applications,” said Andreas Weiskam, Sapphire Ventures, the VC leading the investment.

Somewhat ironically, 24 hours before Wandera was raising its millions, it was World Telecommunications Day, a time that sets out to highlight the ‘importance of communication and how it travels around the world’.

This communication is now being constantly disrupted by hackers who are beginning to turn to mobile devices as an easy way to break into unguarded systems.

The threat is real. According to another survey released this week conducted by security company BullGuard that while online security awareness is growing, four million people in the UK are still potentially exposed to cyber fraud.

The research of more than 10,000 consumers revealed that one in ten people have been a victim of cyber fraud when not protected by paid-for cybersecurity AntiVirus software.

When asked what their biggest online safety concerns were, respondents cited a wide range of attacks from phishing emails to identity theft to card details being cloned, computers crashing, malware-infected ads and becoming victims of ransomware.

Awareness of the need for security is growing. In the survey, when asked whether they check that websites are secure before entering card details to make a purchase a reassuring 78% of consumers said they did.

In another area of security, 58% said public Wi-Fi hotspots were not suitable for online banking and shopping while 88% said they had never used public Wi-Fi hotspots for transactions that would require putting card details online.

“These findings illustrate how important good cybersecurity protection is. They also undermine some voices in the security industry that free antivirus is just as paid-for security. Clearly, end users feel different and would rather have deeper levels of protection,” said Paul Lipman, CEO BullGuard.

While it appears the message is beginning to get through to consumers when it comes to AntiVirus, desktop and Wi-Fi computing, it appears that consumers are more complacent when it comes to using mobile apps.

The recent launch of mobile-first banks in the UK such as Atom, Mondo and Starling are the first wave of companies taking the mobile threat very seriously.

If these apps are in any way vulnerable, these businesses are over before they begin and, judging by the presentations at the Guildhall last month, there are others ready to become the second wave.

The recognition of GuardSquare at the event proves that the smart people are aware of the growing threat through apps and handsets. Perhaps it’s time mobile cybersecurity is taken as seriously as any existing channel.

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