How important is cybersecurity to mobile subscribers?

(This is a guest post by Ian Parkes, director at Coleman Parkes Research, a full-service, UK-based, end-to-end B2B market research company covering international telecom and a wide range of other industries.)

My colleagues and I recently concluded an extensive research survey we conducted in partnership with Allot and the results were, to say the least, enlightening.

Before drilling down into the results, the key findings can be summarized as

  • most mobile subscribers in North America have some protection,
  • most feel the protection is unsatisfactory, and
  • a majority would switch providers for a strong “zero-touch” solution.

The team and I surveyed over 3,500 North American mobile subscribers (2,500 in the US and 1,000 in Canada) to assess their mobile cybersecurity awareness and behavior. Overall, mobile subscribers across the region showed high levels of awareness and concern about cybersecurity threats. Yet, a general uncertainty about exactly which steps they should be taking to protect themselves prevailed.

 

Mobile customers are seeking protection

While a majority of North American consumers have some type of security solution on their internet-connected devices, our findings, which have been published as part of a position paper from Allot, indicate that these solutions are largely unsatisfactory.

Over two-thirds of Canadian respondents have a solution to control phishing, whilst over half of US respondents have a solution to control against a virus attack. Canadians are more likely to have solutions to protect against viruses (US 54%, Canada 62%), malware (US 48%, Canada 54%) and phishing (US 39%, Canada 69%). Americans are far more likely to have a social media monitoring solution installed (US 69%, Canada 39%). A worrying 10% of respondents in both countries reported not having any kind of security solution installed and given that some of these were parents of younger age children, they are leaving themselves and their family open to some serious threats.

The approach to security solution implementation and acquisition varies greatly.  Many users installed free apps, but for those who purchased their security solution, they paid an average monthly fee of $5.60 (Canada) and $5.90 (USA). A fifth of Canadian consumers paid an upfront payment. On the one hand, this shows that the consumer market is motivated to acquire mobile cybersecurity protection. But it also paints a picture of incomplete and inconsistent solutions, where each user is on their own trying to figure out how to protect their devices. Indeed, the main reason amongst those not having a solution was they were bewildered by the choice and did not know where to go or what to choose!  Roughly half of consumers have implemented partial solutions that cannot provide comprehensive protection against all threats, on all devices, no matter where or how they connect to the internet.

Consumers seem to take a ‘set it and forget it’ approach wherein they have a singular instance of concern and seek out a single solution, implement it, and then don’t want to spend any further time or energy investigating additional solutions or updating the one they have.  They may do password changes and software updates, but they rarely review the new solutions on the market.

 

Customers ready to switch networks for better mobile cybersecurity

It turns out that a large proportion of mobile subscribers believe that their communication service provider (CSP) should provide protection against online threats, even though research we have conducted again for Allot amongst CSPs highlights that the CSPs think consumers believe the device manufacturer should provide it! These same mobile subscribers also expressed a willingness to pay an additional monthly fee for an easy-to-use solution that protects all their connected devices at home and on the go.

What was most interesting and impactful was that our results showed that a very high 70% of North American consumers surveyed said security was so important to them, they would ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ switch to a provider with a clear security offering.

Basically, the research uncovered a clear market need, which astute network operators can answer with mobile cybersecurity solutions for existing, as well as new customers peeled off from competitors, and that consumers are indeed willing to pay additional monthly fees for the right solutions.

More details can be found in the recently published position paper from Allot, “Switch to Security: Consumer Security Survey – North America 2020.”

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