As a mentor, investor, and longtime player in the tech industry, I’m frequently asked which market segments I’m betting big on over the coming decade. My knack for spotting market transitions and the technologies that will fuel these shifts partially stems from my relentless focus on outcomes. That’s why I approach investing like a multiplayer chess game; I play out the entire game, replay various scenarios and anticipate others’ moves before I make the decision to invest my time and resources.
In our discussions with federal employees working under smartphone bans at the Pentagon and other high-value buildings, there’s a common theme that emerges: frustration.
In the last 12 months, the threat of compromised smartphone cameras and microphones has taken on bigger real estate in the public consciousness, transforming from a largely abstract fear into a real, widespread and potentially devastating problem. The bad news is that this problem will get worse before it gets better. The good news is that security-centric organizations are looking for ways to proactively defend against this threat. So what will the next 12 months hold in store? Below, I’ve outlined six mobile security predictions for the coming year.
Last month, we released our second-generation product, the Privoro SafeCase, which is compatible with the iPhone 7 and 8. While SafeCase can be used by organizations for a variety of use cases, smartphone counter-surveillance protection is a core functionality. The case blocks the host smartphone’s cameras and actively masks each of the microphones with randomized noise. At Privoro, we believe that only physical, verifiable protections can overcome the threat of hijacked smartphone sensors targeting national security agencies, publicly traded companies and high-profile individuals.
The mobile security of political candidates and their staff gets lost in the shuffle when discussing threats to our elections. However, a series of trends point to mobile espionage becoming the next major vehicle for electoral interference. These trends include:
- The smartphone’s rising importance in conducting the day-to-day business of a political campaign
- The increasing use of intrusive smartphone surveillance tools to target political officials
- A growing appetite by malicious outsiders to interfere in elections by any means necessary
In this mobile security blog post, I’ll discuss the reasons why smartphones may be the next electoral hacking target and the potential consequences of such a shift.
Earlier this month, a controversial report in Bloomberg Businessweek ignited a larger conversation about a topic that has long been a concern of security professionals: the hacking of the hardware supply chain. The fear of backdoors built into devices isn’t new (see: the blacklisting of Huawei and ZTE products by the US government), but concrete evidence is rarely made available to the public.
We started Privoro in 2013 not merely as a company, but as a philosophy: that security and privacy need not be casualties of our hyper-connected, sensor-driven, mobile-first world. That we should be able to trust and control our electronic devices. That our information is ours alone, and we should be able to control how it is accessed and shared.
Ten years ago, I would have said that voice was an interface of the past. Yet today, the voice revolution is well underway and it’s becoming clear that voice will, in fact, be the next major interface. Just look at the proliferation and capabilities of virtual assistants and voice-activated devices, whether it’s asking Amazon’s Alexa-enabled Echo to turn down the thermostat, having Google Home recite your schedule for the day, or instructing Apple’s Siri to read your emails out loud. While nearly one in five Americans has access to a smart speaker today, Gartner predicts that 75 percent of households in the U.S. will have smart speakers by 2020.
We conducted our second annual survey on attitudes about smartphone privacy and security on August 1st, 2018. The results show a slightly elevated level of concern, but not as much as one might think given the endless stream of news reports about smartphone hacks and exploits. Check out the infographic of the results here.
Privoro recently attended the GSF Modern Warfare conference at Fort Bragg, home of the 82nd Airborne (I highly recommend researching the history of this division if you’re unfamiliar). Although our trip to Fort Bragg was a first, what wasn’t new at all is the problem smartphones are causing government employees across the military, intel agencies and Capitol Hill.