Mobile has changed everything…except the security mindset?

July 19, 2016 andrewwajs

Statistically every person in the world between 15 to 64 years old has a smartphone or tablet today. In the next 5 years for every baby born 10 smartphones will be sold. Smartphones have literally changed our lives, from playing, working to everyday living. But what can we learn from app developers, who’ve made mobile devices so powerful?

Learning from app developers
With 102 billion mobile app downloads to date – averaging 22 apps per device – it’s clear that software developers know what they are doing. They’ve cracked the code on how to deliver a fantastic user experience using the limited resources on a smartphone.

But software developers didn’t always get it right. Not long ago, many of them were pouring their energy into building the coolest graphics for video interfaces, games and other apps to make consumers fall into love with their creation. Surely the “best” wins the race, right? Well, they missed a couple of things.

  • The coolest graphics require a lot of hardware resources to be displayed properly.
  • People have no patience.

Now, when people are using 22 apps on their smartphones to watch TV, pay bills, socialize and work, and they have to wait 10 seconds for your “beautiful creation” to load…you get the picture. It’s not pretty.

Successful app developers, like those of Minecraft, know that the best user experience can only come from a design that stays within the limitations of the platform. They carefully select the RIGHT details to obsess over. The kind of details that not only work despite the hardware constraints, but actually make the platform constraints unnoticeable to the user. And good apps must scale for billions of users.

Security, time to give up the hardware blanket?
So what troubles me is this long-standing mindset among security professionals: “Good security requires robust hardware.” This is not a debate about hardware vs. software. It’s about the choices people make when they have this mindset. It’s like software developers saying “a good user experience requires cool graphics.” What often happens is that people throw hardware at a security problem and stop obsessing over the right design details. The kind of details critical to make security adaptable, practical and seamless. We know this line of thinking is dangerous.

Make it light, make it scalable, or make it gone
We must learn from app developers to design the right security in today’s world:

  • Embrace the hardware limitations instead of fighting them.
  • Leverage the open and standardized app or web environment to reduce the cost of security software development.
  • Obsess over details that really matter to users today – light to install and run, high performance, and protection for anything they want to do on their devices.

If we don’t think differently, security will be the dinosaur left behind by the mobile evolution.

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