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Mobile Computing

A look at concepts, problems, and solutions


Sam Johnson, Nick Twilley, Tianyi Zhang, Zhanni Zhou, & Suijun Wu

ABSTRACT
The primary focus of this paper is the concept of mobile computing. Discussed
within are the concepts of short messaging services, mobile commerce, and
mobile banking as they relate to mobile computing. Selected security risks
associated with mobile computing are discussed within this paper, while methods
of mobile device deployment are also discussed.
Table of Contents
Introduction............................................................................................................................3
Mobile Computing Defined.................................................................................................................................................... 3
Mobile Computing Devices Defined.................................................................................................................................... 3
Mobile Computing History..................................................................................................................................................... 3
Mobile Computing Advantages and Threats.................................................................................................................. 4
Mobile Computing and the Related Security Concerns.............................................................4
Technologies Associated with Mitigating Risk.............................................................................................................. 4
Mobile Computing Device Deployment Methods.......................................................................................................... 5
Short Messaging Services (SMS) Defined.................................................................................6
Threats to Short Messaging Services.............................................................................................................................. 6
Data Privacy................................................................................................................................................................................. 6
SMS Initiated Phone Crashes................................................................................................................................................ 6
Viruses............................................................................................................................................................................................ 6
Phishing......................................................................................................................................................................................... 7
Short Messaging Services (SMS) Conclusion................................................................................................................ 7
Mobile Commerce...................................................................................................................7
Generations of Mobile Commerce....................................................................................................................................... 7
Mobile Commerce Shopping.................................................................................................................................................. 8
Mobile Banking.......................................................................................................................8
Mobile Banking Platforms..................................................................................................................................................... 9
Future of Mobile Banking.................................................................................................................................................... 10
Appendix...............................................................................................................................11
Works Cited...........................................................................................................................13

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Introduction
Estimates suggest that in roughly five years the number of mobile computing devices will be
about 10 billion, or 1.5 for every single person on the planet (Ernst & Young “Bring” 1). The
field of mobile computing is becoming more and more prevalent throughout our daily lives. This
can be seen from the increase in the number of smartphone users from 114 million to 250 million
in just the one-year period between 2012 and 2013 (Okoye). Additionally, according to Okoye’s
research, 78% of adults within the United States own a smartphone. Today, almost every single
person utilizes mobile computing in some shape or form. However, business professionals all
over the world have been utilizing mobile computing as an integral part of their daily activities
for a number of years. Through the use of mobile computing individuals are able to be in
constant connection to the Internet, which has significantly changed the way people do things
(“Mobile Computing: A Study” 3). However, because of the quickly changing environment of
mobile computing technology, the risks associated with mobile computing are constantly
growing and changing. They key objectives of this paper are to define and analyze some of the
major security issues related to mobile computing from an organizational standpoint, while also
defining mobile commerce, mobile banking, and short message services (SMS) from the
perspective of an individual user, and how these particular aspects of mobile computing relate to
the organizational security issues.

Mobile Computi ng Defi ned


Mobile computing, or what is sometimes referred to as nomadic computing, is defined as the use
of transportable computing devices with mobile communication technologies (Rouse). Mobile
computing is a technology that allows for the transmission of data, voice, and video via a
computer or any other wireless enabled device without having to be connected to a fixed
physical link (Livingston). Mobile computing utilizes a number of different methods to connect
to a network. Some of these methods include, Internet, intranet, WAN, LAN, WLAN, and a
number of other related methods.

Mobile Computi ng Devices Defi ned


The Information Systems Audit and Control Association’s (ISACA) white paper from 2010 on
Securing Mobile Devices, defines the following seven types of items as mobile computing devices:
1. Smartphones (i.e. iPhone)
2. Laptops (portable computers)
3. Tablet Computers (i.e. iPad)
4. Portable Digital Assistants (PDAs)
5. Portable USB Storage Devices (portable universal serial bus storage devices)
6. Radio and Mobile Frequency Identification Devices (RFID)
7. Infrared-Enabled Devices (IrDA)

Mobile Computi ng History


In 1894, Guglielmo Marconi, the father of radio, was the first person to person to produce radio
waves over long distances, which marks the beginning of both wireless and mobile computing
technology. The first wireless network was completed in Germany in 1958. In 1983, he entered
the mobile computing industry with Motorola’s invention of the world’s first personal cellular

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telephone (Livingston). This invention simultaneously marked the creation of the commercial
cellular service market. The first 113 years of the history of mobile computing saw a steady
stream of key events (refer to Appendix A for additional information). The mobile computing
industry has seen an exponential growth occur within the last seven years (refer to Appendix B
for additional information). The beginning of this exponential growth can primarily be attributed
to the release of the iPhone and the mobile operating system iOS by Apple in January 2007.

Mobile Computi ng Advantages and Threats


There are a number of advantages associated with mobile computing including the ability for
users to connect to the Internet anywhere and at anytime. An additional advantage of mobile
computing is that it provides the ability to bring mobile communications to remote areas without
any pre-existing infrastructure at a low cost (“Mobile Computing: A Study” 4). However, despite
the numerous advantages, there are a number of threats faced by mobile computing. These
threats include limitations associated with range and bandwidth issues, security issues,
transmission interferences, power assumptions, as well as a number of other related items
(Chapungu). The primary limitations associated with range and bandwidth can be attributed to
the fact that the networks accessible by mobile computing devices are generally constrained to a
range of commercial cell phone towers. However, according to Chapungu, the major threat
associated with mobile computing is related to security issues, which are discussed in greater
detail within this paper. Typical applications of mobile computing and the related security issues
will be introduced and discussed within this paper.

Mobile Computing and the Related Security Concerns


The use of mobile computing is increasingly becoming an integral part of the framework of our
daily lives.  For the purposes of this paper the primary focus will be on the incorporation of a
mobile computing framework into an information technology (IT) infrastructure from an
organizational standpoint, and then the related technologies involved within mobile computing
from an individual’s perspective.

Technologies Associated with Miti gati ng Risk


After the decision has been made to incorporate mobile computing into an organization’s IT
infrastructure, the new security risks related to this implementation must be properly addressed.
The two primary technologies that are being used by the majority of companies as well as CPA
firms to alleviate the risks associated with mobile computing includes automated wireless
security management systems (WSMS) for larger organizations, and thin computing for smaller
organizations. From an organizational standpoint, “the primary benefit of automated WSMSs
and thin computing is the ability to consistently enforce security controls at the point of use
(Aldhizer 60).” The implementation costs associated with these two technologies can vary
greatly, with the implementation of an automated WSMS involving the purchase of expensive
software, while thin computing is a much more cost effective solution. There are a number of
reasons as to why thin computing is considered to be such a cost effective solution. These
reasons include the fact that “thin mobile devices have little or no operating systems, they can
not store data, and the devices generally only have enough computing power to access the
internal network where the applications and data needed by remote users are stored (Aldhizer
60).” Another benefit of thin computing is that all of the associated applications and data are

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stored on a central server controlled by the organization. Additionally, smaller organizations can
benefit from the use of thin computing due to the fact that thin computing devices crash less
frequently and linking them to internal networks is generally considered to be less complex.
While thin computing is better suited to smaller organizations, larger organizations should
consider implementing automated WSMS systems due to the fact that they can be customized to
fit the unique needs of the organization.  The initial steps for the implementation of an automated
WSMS system involve the organization conducting a feasibility study, which is immediately
followed by management rallying key stakeholders in order to reach a consensus concerning the
most sensitive data that needs to be protected. One of the primary benefits of an automated
WSMS is that “if a user is in the process of violating the organization’s security policy, the
WSMS can automatically shut down the procedure and send an alert to management for
immediate investigation (Aldhizer 60).”

Mobile Computi ng Device Deployment Methods


After the organization has chosen a technology to implement in order to alleviate the risks
associated with mobile device computing, the organization must choose a mobile device
deployment method as well. Although there are a number of different mobile device deployment
methods, the majority of organizations within the United States are primarily using Bring Your
Own Device Deployment (BYOD).  The concept of a BYOD mobile computing system involves
a company’s employees using their own personal mobile devices for company related activities,
while still being able to simultaneously use the devices for their own personal wants and needs.
According to L. Gary Boomer, “BYOD policies make employees happier”, while Amy Vetter
adds; “employers that oppose the trend are fighting a losing battle that could result in employees’
leaving” (Drew). The risk landscape associated with BYOD mobile device deployment is
dependent on what can be narrowed down to three key factors; “the organization’s risk profile,
current (and future) mobile use cases, and lastly the geographic deployment of the devices”
(Ernst & Young Bring).  For the first factor, the organization’s risk profile, the definition, as well
as the treatment of risks, by the organization plays a crucial role in the identification of the
proper security controls to employ. The second factor, current (and future) mobile use cases, is
crucial primarily due to the fact that there is not a “one size fits all” use case. Finally, the third
factor, the geographic deployment of the devices, is important due to the laws and regulations
related to privacy concerns from an international standpoint. Moving forward in the process of
conducting a mobile device configuration review audit from a BYOD perspective the associated
risk factors are divided amongst three areas, “securing mobile devices, addressing app risk, and
managing the mobile environment” (Ernst & Young Bring). A BYOD system is easily
implemented, and a BYOD policy usually addresses ten general areas. These areas include,
general security requirements for mobile devices, authentication (passcode/PIN) requirements,
storage/transmission encryption requirements, requirements to automatically wipe devices after a
number of failed login attempts, usage restrictions for mobile devices, company liability, rights
to monitor, manage, and wipe, support model, leading practices for mobile data usage on
international travel, acceptable use (if different from the normal acceptable use policy).
Additionally, the process of securing and improving the BYOD system involves a series of eight
steps. These steps include, creating a strategy for BYOD with a business case and a goal
statement, involving stakeholders early through the formation of a mobility group, creating a
support and operations model, analyzing the risk, creating a BYOD policy that adheres to the
requirements previously discussed, securing devices and apps, testing and verifying the security

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of the implementation, and lastly measuring the success, ROI, and roll-forward lessons learned.
Lastly the hidden service costs associated with BYOD include, user device control, users’
expectations relating the support of BYOD, costs associated with request fulfillment, and the
additional costs associated with the training of service desk staff (Ernst & Young Bring).

Short Messaging Services (SMS) Defined


Short Messaging Services, commonly referred to as SMS, are a prevalent way for people to
communicate not only because of its cost effectiveness, but because it is very convenient and
time saving. Thanks to the inventions of more powerful PDA style mobile devices with touch
screens and advanced mobile operating systems, such as Android and iOS, the use of SMS has
become increasingly more widespread and user-friendly. With advanced SMS style applications
on mobile devices such as WeChat, Whatsapp, Twitter, and iMessage, people can send and
receive not only short messages, but also pictures and videos in real time,. With its advantages
mentioned above, many organizations, governments and companies use SMS for internal
communications as well. Thus the security of short messaging services for them is very crucial.
Before talking about the security threats to SMS, we will take a look at the operation of SMS.

The main functions of the short message service are to store and forward messages. Messages at
first are received from the sender and then are stored in the central server message center, after
that, they are forwarded to receiver. If mobile phones are turned off, messages will not be sent
immediately, so to make sure the message could finally be sent to the recipient in the end,
enough storage is necessary (Androulidakis 65).

Threats to Short Messaging Services


Data Privacy
Data privacy threats exist due to the insecure nature of protocol. Apart from that, since
encryptions are not applicable to most text and voice messages, they are easy to be intercepted
during message transmission and could be amended by unauthorized parties after they reach the
data storing center. Intercepted messages not only could reveal information about how the SMS
is implemented, but could enable the attacker to gain access for other type of attacks (Lundeen).

SMS Initi ated Phone Crashes


Sometimes attackers do not need to intercept the messages one sends, they can instead spend a
few minutes accessing a mobile device and installing malware on it (Androulidakis 65). Once a
mobile devices is impacted by the malware, the malware, can cause damage such as disrupting
mobile devices operation, gathering sensitive information, and gaining access to private mobile
device systems, thus mobile devices crashes will happen (Chebyshev).

Viruses
A virus infecting short message services directly seems unlikely, but this is sure to happen thanks
to the more powerful, computer-like mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad, Surface, and Android
based mobile devices. More importantly, the SIM application toolkits have the ability to allow
applications access to the dialing functions and phone book entries to make viruses spread with
message sending (The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region). Many

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viruses are now designed for mobile devices. Once targeted viruses affect the mobile device, the
data and the information stored in the device will suffer.

Phishing
Currently many mobile devices can offer users the ability to check their e-mail status. Although
this technology provides user convenience, there are problems that have arised. Just as a phishing
email seen when checking personal email, the same thing could happen when checking activities
on a mobile devices. Phishing is defined as “unauthorized acquiring personal information such as
usernames, passwords, and credit card records by pretending to be an authentic party
(Phishing).” When a user clicks a link provided by the phishing mail, they may be connected to a
website provided by the phishing mail and be tricked to download malware onto their devices.

Short Messaging Services (SMS) Conclusion


Although short messaging services can provide a more convenient and inexpensive way for users
to contact each other, it still has many security issues, which is a huge problem when the
sensitive information of a credit card is stolen when online shopping or banking with a mobile
device. The next sections will discuss some mobile computing issues of mobile commerce and
mobile banking.

Mobile Commerce
The concept of electronic commerce, which is the trading products or services using computer
networks, is particularly well suited for use within mobile computing. Mobile commerce, a
branch of electronic commerce, refers to the transmission of data through wireless technology. It
includes the use of mobile information terminals to participate in various business activities,
which is a new kind of an e-commerce capability under the new technology and market
environment. As the world of technology develops steadily, an increasing number of mobile
devices lead to innovation, playing an important role in mobile commerce. The inventions and
popularization of personal digital assistants (PDAs) and smartphones promote more businesses
to use this technology as an effective method to communicate with their clients directly (Martin).

Generati ons of Mobile Commerce              


Along with the rapid progress of mobile communication technology, the evolution of mobile
commerce has gone through three generations. The first generation of mobile commerce brought
access technology based on SMS. The first two cell phones involved in mobile commerce
authorized Coca-Cola to build vending machines in Finland in 1997 for payment through SMS
text message (Nawab). Poor real-time performance and size limitations created the need for
innovation.

The second generation of mobile commerce adopted a method based upon Wireless Application
Protocol (WAP) technology so mobile phones could access the WAP web pages via browser to
search information just as a PC would. As Russ Housley, the current chair of the Internet
Architecture Board, mentioned, “WAP is an open global specification for providing Internet
communications and advanced service to mobile users with wireless devices (Paro).” This new
technology partially solved the problems of the first generation of mobile commerce with the
capabilities of the internet. However, a disadvantage of the second generation mainly manifested
itself in encryption. This is primarily due to the fact that the encryption authentication of

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Wireless Transport Layer Security protocol establishes a secure channel, which must be
terminated within the WAP gateway that could potentially cause a number of security threats.
The needs of customers were not met as a result of the WAP web access security issues (Paro).

The current generation of mobile commerce uses a web service built on Service Oriented
Architecture (SOA), smart mobile terminals, and mobile Virtual Private Network (VPN)
technology to greatly improve the system’s security and interactive ability. This generation
provides e-commerce personnel a safe and modern mobile business office founded on the private
network and wireless communication environment. This technology is widely used around the
world and offers a more efficient and effective platform to do business via mobile devices
(Newab).

Mobile Commerce Shopping


There are two areas of mobile commerce that are widely applied in our daily lives; Web
Storefronts and Virtual Shops. Web Storefronts restrict one seller to market and sell products and
services on the Internet. Customers around the world search the products and services they desire
from online catalogs, which show the price, feature, recommendations, etc. Items are then added
to a virtual shopping cart and rely on various forms of online banking as payment. The online
market is by design more effective and efficient than a real-world shopping environment because
consumers are able to compare products and services from different suppliers to find a bargain.
Virtual Shops are similar to Web Storefronts but without the one seller limitation (Umar). For
example, Amazon allows customers to purchase products from different sellers, bundle the
products together in a single sale, and ship to their home addresses.

The big issue for mobile commerce stems from the need to make quick, easy and safe
transactions over the Internet. Customers want fast service and an interface that organizes their
purchases/sales. However, what customers most care about is their money being safe online. An
increasing number of resources have been invested in protecting data on internal networks with
the use of firewalls, intrusion prevention software, and intrusion-detection software (Aldhizer
59). According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2014 cost of data breach study, the total average cost
paid by organizations was $5.9 million in the last year (2014 Cost of Data Breach Study).
Companies spend time and money because they cannot risk losing money of their customers, or
of their own. Banks have a large presence on the internet due in large part for the need of
accessible virtual money for mobile commerce. Mobile banking allows customers to manage
their money virtually, in a safe and effective manner, for various types of transactions on a series
of devices and platforms.

Mobile Banking
Mobile banking is growing exponentially each year as customers become more familiar and less
threatened. Gemalto, a world leader in digital security, defines mobile banking as “enabling
secure access to banking services on the mobile device (“Mobile Banking”).” Due to the surge of
alternative technologies and the expanding marketplace that is mobile commerce, consumer
usage is increasing. Gemalto also explains the benefits of mobile banking from a bank’s point of
view; “Mobile banking helps banks create a compelling and satisfying online customer
experience, driving increased interaction and sales over the mobile phone, and reducing
operational costs (“Mobile Banking”).” Now that technology and consumer confidence in mobile

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banking has increased, it seems mobile banking is here to stay. Mobile banking is a significant
advance in the banking industry, but how does it work?

Banks’ classify their mobile financial services based on how the information flows. A pull
transaction is when a mobile user actively requests something from a bank, and a push
transaction is when a bank will send information based on a specific set of rules (Harris 2).
Examples of pull transactions are bill payments, funds transfers, account balance inquiries and
transaction history. Examples of push transactions are minimum balance alerts, bill payment
alerts, and credit/debit alerts. These information flows are the foundation of device
communication within mobile banking (Harris 2).

Mobile Banking Platf orms     


There are two main platforms on which to do mobile banking. First, a basic platform uses SMS
and voice recognition software. This platform is based on simple input/output interaction where
the bank’s system will text or read to you an inquiry for which the user has to respond with an
input. The system provides a response to each step of this process with a corresponding output
based on the user requests. This platform has many advantages with the biggest being that it
works on almost every cell phone regardless of its level of technology. One disadvantage is not
giving the user an interface to actually see everything, which is a big deal in this technological
age. Other disadvantages are created by the inherent risks that come with calling and texting,
such as poor service or the fact that there is no guarantee a text will be delivered to the recipient
(Harris 3).

The second, now more prevalent platform on which to do mobile banking is with an internet-
based advanced platform. Almost every bank has an app now as many people move towards
smart phones and tablets and virtually everyone has some access to the internet. The two
approaches for setting up this type of mobile banking are Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
and standalone mobile application (Harris 3).

WAP is the equivalent of accessing Internet pages on a mobile device. These are pages setup for
a PC, but they are accessible to mobile devices the same way as they are to computers based on
concepts of browsers, servers, URLs and gateways. An advantage of this approach is that users
can use web pages they are familiar with using on their computers, and they do not have to
download anything, such as an app. A major disadvantage is that mobile devices lack the same
level of antivirus and personal firewall protection than a standard personal computer. The
constant switching of wireless Internets gives a mobile device exposure to potentially dangerous
networks (Harris 4).

The second approach for internet-based mobile banking consists of standalone mobile
applications. This requires users to download apps, which are extremely user friendly and allow
banks to customize and brand the pages to their liking. This approach is widely regarded as the
future of mobile banking. A disadvantage is an app needs the capability to be customized on
each phone, greatly increasing development costs. These applications can also be vulnerable to
attacks if not protected effectively (Harris 4).

Future of Mobile Banking

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Overall mobile banking has a bright future, but as new technologies that handle money arise, so
do instances of cyber-fraud. According to RT News “Android users faced six times as many
cyber-attacks this year than last, according to a new study. Hackers targeted 588,000 mobile
users worldwide between August 2013 and July 2014 (“Mobile cyber-attacks”).” Of those
attacks about 60% of the malware found on mobile devices was designed to steal banking details
or money (“Mobile cyber-attacks”). As fraudsters are starting to focus more on the mobile
banking market this number will likely increase, but so will new technologies to combat these
cyber-attacks.

There are many directions mobile banking could go in the future, but the most prevalent seems to
be with digital wallet technology. There is already technology for this on the iPhone 6 through
“Apple Pay”. Apple has partnerships with many of the major banks to handle credit card
transactions through their smartphones. Through security measures such as passwords and
fingerprint scanners, many customers are comfortable enough to use digital wallets (Baig). This
will be a new trend to keep in mind, and there are sure to be more mobile banking technologies
created in the future.  

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Appendix
Appendix A: Mobile Computing Timeline of Key Events from 1894 through 1983
(Livingston).................................................................................................................................................. 11
Appendix B: Mobile Computing Timeline of Key Events from 2007 through 2010 (Ernst &
Young “Mobile”).......................................................................................................................................... 12

Appendix A: Mobile Computing Timeline of Key Events from 1894 through 1983 (Livingston)

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12
Appendix B: Mobile Computing Timeline of Key Events from 2007 through 2010 (Ernst &
Young “Mobile”)

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