What Does the Future of Mobile Security Look Like?

Simplicity is very often where the trouble lies.

Mobile security.

In the reading of those two words, did a shiver shoot down your spine? If you’re in the know with either the mobile space or the security sector, it most certainly did. And if you’re a company looking to expand your offerings to a mobile application for Android and iOS, then you are either just now learning how challenging security is for mobile devices, or you’ve been aware of it for some time and are acquainted with the hurdles.

There’s the never-ending onslaught of malware, ransomware, phishing attacks, and various and sundry sorts of data theft. And then there are the users who want nothing more than their mobile experience to be as simple as possible. That simplicity is very often where the trouble lies. Why? Because it becomes quite the developer challenge to find the perfect ratio of simplicity and security.

And that’s why mobile developers (for either operating systems or apps) are in a constant battle to make this work for everyone involved. It’s also why the mobile landscape is in a constant state of flux.

That state of flux means developers and businesses have to be aware of what is or what might change. In fact, many businesses are turning to offshore IT services for assistance in this never-ending battle. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the possible ideas that could find their way into the world of mobility in the coming year or years.

Two-Factor Authentication will become the de facto standard

If you’re not already using Two-Factor Authentication, at some point in the future you won’t have a choice. But what is Two-Factor Authentication (aka 2FA)? Simple: When you employ 2FA you add another layer to the login process. Using an app like the Google Authenticator or Authy, you retrieve a 6-digit code that is required (after the regular username/password is successfully entered) in order to login to the app or service you are attempting to use. Without that 6-digit code, you won’t be able to log in.

With this added layer of security, it’s harder for bad actors to gain access to your accounts. It’s not perfect, but it does go a long way to prevent hacking into those accounts.

The problem is (to this point) that so many refuse to use 2FA. Why? Because it’s an extra step. And since 2FA is optional, most don’t bother.

That will change. In the coming years, 2FA will be required for logging into any and all accounts. That means businesses will have to get that service rolled into their mobile apps and the servers that those apps work with.

Phone logins will start to employ multi-factor authentication

And speaking of which, you might think that PIN/Password/Fingerprint/Face unlock is enough to keep your phone safe from unwanted users. But is it, really? If you fall asleep, someone could hold your phone to your face or press your finger to the fingerprint scanner and voila! they’re in.

Don’t be surprised if phone logins of the future require multi-factor authentication. So instead of just a fingerprint or a face, you might have to tap your finger to the reader and then enter a PIN to access your device.

I know that a lot of people reading that just rolled their eyes and groaned.

But consider this: What’s more important to you, ease of login or the security of your information? Hopefully, your answer was security. If not, it might not be a matter of if but when someone hacks into your phone.

More frequent (and smaller) security updates

The state of security and mobile operating system updates/upgrades is a disaster. Many times those updates come in the form of larger upgrades that not only take time but can cause things to break. Migrating from one major release of an operating system to another means all of those installed apps must comply with the new platform.

In the future, those updates will be more frequent and smaller. Security updates will all come by way of regular patches and platform upgrades will roll out twice a year or even three times a year (in the form of X.1, X.2, X.3 updates). These smaller security updates mean they won’t just happen more frequently but will cause fewer problems for users and app developers.

Sideloading applications no longer possible

Sideloading apps is the process of installing mobile apps from outside the default app store (Google Play Store or Apple App Store). Very often, when problems arise, it’s because users have installed apps from third-party sites.

Within the next year or so, that option will likely go away. When that does, the only method of installing a mobile app will be via the platform’s app store. For businesses that means any and all apps must be submitted to the two app stores, or they will not be available for users.

This might be a point of contention for many users and businesses, but to keep those mobile devices truly secure, it’s going to have to happen. So to every business out there (who’s not already submitting to the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store), bone up on the process.

Application vetting will become considerably more rigorous

Along the same lines, understand that application vetting will become so rigorous, you shouldn’t be surprised if your app is denied submission the first few times. Both Google and Apple are going to become incredibly strict on their security policies and will be quick to refuse a submission.

In order to avoid such a dilemma, app developers must constantly be up to date on the latest requirements for each platform. The problem is, those requirements change. Just because V 1.0 of your app was accepted, don’t think you can follow the same requirements and get V 2.0 accepted. Every time you make a change to your app, you must ensure it meets the requirements for acceptance.

Conclusion

The mobile landscape is constantly shifting. Because hackers are always finding new ways to steal data, mobile developers must do everything they can to stay one step ahead. These are just a few ways our mobile devices could become more secure in the future. But I suspect that by the time the future arrives, everything will have so drastically changed, even these ideas will barely tip the scales away from the bad guys.

I’m a tech writer, IT enthusiast, and business development manager living in Miami.

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