Security Market Segment LS
Friday, 25 September 2015 14:24

Data breaches a growing threat to mobile payments


Mobile payment data breaches are expected to increase over the next 12 months, with many of the world’s cybersecurity experts warning that mobile payments are not secure.

A newly published report from IT governance body, ISACA - the Information Systems Audit and Control Association - says that of 900 cybersecurity experts recently surveyed, an overwhelming majority – 87% - say they expect an increase in mobile payment data breaches over the next 12 months.

Worringly, nearly half (47%) of the experts say mobile payments are not secure, even though 42% of them have themselves used this payment method in 2015.

In addition, only 23% of the cybersecurity experts believe that mobile payments are secure in keeping personal information safe.

And, while 89% of the experts deemed cash was the most secure payment method, only 9% said they preferred to use it.

The survey respondents ranked major vulnerabilities associated with mobile payments as:

1. Use of public WiFi (26%)

2. Lost or stolen devices (21%)

3. Phishing/shmishing (phishing attacks via text messages) (18%)

4. Weak passwords (13%)

According ISACA, the survey suggests that cybersecurity professionals are willing to balance benefits with perceived security risks of mobile payments.

“Mobile payments represent the latest frontier for the choice we make to balance security and privacy risk and convenience,” said John Pironti, risk advisor with ISACA and president of IP Architects.

“ISACA members, who are some of the most cyber-aware professionals in the world, are using mobile payments while simultaneously identifying and contemplating their potential security risks.

“This shows that fear of identity theft or a data breach is not slowing down adoption—and it shouldn’t—as long as risk is properly managed and effective and appropriate security features are in place.”

The global mobile payment transaction market is massive. The market, which includes Apple Pay, Google Wallet, PayPal and Venmo, will be worth US $2.8 trillion by 2020, according to Future Market Insights.

On consumer awareness of cyberthreats, the experts responding to the ISACA survey say that the most effective way to make mobile payments more secure is using two ways to authenticate their identity (66%), and requiring short-term authentication codes (18%). Less popular was installing phone-based security apps (9%).

“People using mobile payments need to educate themselves so they are making informed choices. You need to know your options, choose an acceptable level of risk, and put a value on your personal information,” said Christos Dimitriadis, international president of ISACA and group director of information security for INTRALOT.

“Embrace and educate about new services and technologies,” Dimitriadis said.

On security governance, ISACA says that, in the emerging mobile payment landscape, there is no accepted understanding of who is responsible for keeping mobile payments secure—consumers, payment providers or retailers.

But, according to ISACA, one approach is to use the COBIT governance framework to involve key stakeholders in deciding on an acceptable balance of fraud rate vs. revenue.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).



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