SMS safer than online, says industry leader

3G transactions not as secure or reliable as SMS, according to Bond Wireless chairman, Clarence Tan

SMS technology could provide simpler options for government compliance and would be easier to implement than online systems that rely on 3G connections, a mobile industry leader has claimed.

Speaking at the recent World Computer Congress 2010 in Brisbane, Bond University Innovation Centre CEO and chairman of Bond Wireless, Dr. Clarence Tan, said the health, commerce and education sector could rely on SMS’ security and simplicity.

“Security breaches are not necessarily about the applications or the security of a site, but are often about the security of your internet connection,” he said. “A lot of people think they have the most secure applications, but what happens when you take your iPad and browse on a free Wi-Fi public network and you have no idea what’s actually behind that?”

With the Federal Government last month announcing plans to upgrade its Emergency Alert warning system, Tan praised the capability of SMS in being able to provide such warnings despite conceding there were limitations to the current capabilities of mobile phone technology.

The Western Australian government also plans to consolidate its emergency communications system and eradicate mobile blackspots.

“A SIM card doesn’t actually belong to you, it belongs to a carrier,” Tan said. “If you want to delete any information on it, you’ll have to basically get permission to re-flash it.”

“The two major issues with entering information onto your phone via SMS is obviously your handset is limited to a small keypad,” he said. “The other is there is no end user receipt for transactions done by SMS… there is no proof of the transaction taking place.

“In Australia if you’re a doctor treating a patient with a disease, by law you have to show the government that you’ve done your duty of care and communicate the results as quickly as possible,” he said. “Some 99 per cent of results are negative, so really a lot of doctor’s time is tied up with doctor’s calling patients to ask about their results.”

“I was approached by one health organisation and I told them to tell their patients, ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’... essentially what we came up with was an SMS solution.”

Tan helped one such company use SMS technology, with text messages providing an all-in-one solution and VoIP offered in addition to SMS as a way for older generations to participate.

“They’ve been using it for the past four years and have cut down the costs and provided a faster response time in serving the patient,” he said. “SMS [messages] are used as proof-of-receipt in order to comply [with government regulations].”

The insights come as CoastWatch shared its use of SMS technology at the congress, with general manager of research and development at the organisation, Chris Lane, successfully trialling SMS as part of its emergency management strategy.

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