Cybersafety and Cybersecurity

Key Points

  • Today's wireless ecosystem is dramatically different from what it was only five years ago with the constant introduction of a variety of new players and technologies. In order to protect the wireless industry from cybercriminals and cyberthreats, the wireless ecosystem – network operators, device manufacturers and application/content developers – must work together. When you add the number of companies, along with the more open and diverse mobile industry, cybersecurity is a challenge. In June 2012, CTIA developed its Cybersecurity Working Group (CWG) for industry players to work together as much as possible to identify potential problems and determine the best course of action to minimize the impact of cyberthreats on consumers and companies. The CWG developed the following white papers:
  • While cybersecurity may be a new term for some, the wireless industry has been protecting its customers and networks since day one, and continues to work 24/7 to stop cyberthreats. Cybersecurity is a top priority and is also a complex arena since cybercriminals constantly change and evolve to create new threats. In order to have the best defense, it's important that the best and brightest, regardless of their employer (e.g., private company, government, academia, etc), share information regarding potential problems or threats and develop collaborative solutions. That's why CTIA continues to advocate to pass the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 3523).
  • While the wireless industry continues to actively develop and invest in solutions to protect its customers and networks from cybercriminals, consumers play an important role in cybersecurity. To help consumers proactively protect themselves and their data, CTIA and its member companies developed 11 simple tips using "cybersafety" as an acronym. PDF icon

CTIA Position

The wireless industry has a strong legacy of security. Today, our members offer a wealth of options from password protections and sophisticated encryption schemes to protections to mitigate malware and SPAM. While there are news stories about cyberthreats on a weekly basis, it's important that policymakers and consumers recognize three key points.

  1. The wireless ecosystem has grown and continues to evolve. When the wireless industry started in 1984, there were only mobile networks and device manufacturers. People only made voice calls. When the mobile ecosystem was simpler, the “inevitable problems” of information security (i.e. data protection from unauthorized access) were much simpler for the industry to address. Today, the number and variety of companies in the wireless ecosystem have grown dramatically to include operating systems (e.g., Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Symbian, Windows, etc.), OEMs, application stores and application/content developers (including OTT). While this has meant that consumers have a plethora of diverse choices, cybersecurity becomes more challenging since the wireless industry is more open and much more complex.
  2. While our members are doing everything they can to protect their infrastructure and consumers, they also need to be able to communicate with their competitors, federal government agencies, academia and subject matter experts to identify potential issues and create solutions BEFORE there is a problem. That's why we, along with a number of other tech companies and associations, support the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 3523). This bill was already passed by the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate needs to move quickly. We don't have time to waste because cybercriminals and hackers are moving fast. There is rapid growth in spyware designed to steal sensitive personal, financial and work information from mobile devices. Based on industry reports, the quantity of mobile malware doubled during the first half of 2013. In order to counterbalance the growing, threat the ecosystem players must work collaboratively to stem the rising tide and maintain the very low smartphone malware infection rate that the US benefits from today.
  3. Consumers play a very important role in cybersecurity, in addition to the industry’s priority to protect infrastructure and  customers. Consumers must take some simple steps to protect themselves and leverage their role in the ecosystem. As we've learned from the PC industry, software updates that address vulnerabilities are critical to good "cybersecurity hygiene." By simply applying firmware updates, consumers can dramatically reduce their exposure to known vulnerabilities. Beyond firmware updates, consumers should use passwords to lock and protect their devices.

As Americans continue to rely on wireless as their sole or primary means of communications, everyone has a responsibility and a role to play in protecting personal information on devices and networks.

Last Updated: November 2013

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