Securing the wireless net's future

Mobile ecommerce transactions, including stock trading and goods purchasing, will contribute "substantial amounts of revenue" to the wireless market as early as this year, an industry player has predicted.

Wireless services available on mobile phones and PDA devices are currently limited to news and information, but will attract more "valuable" services such as ecommerce transactions soon, said Guy Singh, product manager for Baltimore Technologies. "What will make (the wireless market) last is being able to provide (services) of value . . . buying goods and trading stock."

Singh said the mobile ecommerce market and its attendant security measures have so far been overlooked as a result of the fast-paced growth experienced in the wireless market. "I don't thinking anyone clearly envisaged the demand, the mindshare or the opportunities that wireless internet would generate. What's equivalent to three months in the internet world is like three weeks in the wireless world."

Singh said that while some WAP (wireless application protocol)-enabled phones do contain security technology, many models do not have full capabilities to ensure secure transactions.

Network operators, ISPs, application developers and WAP gateways also have "an awful lot of work to be done" in terms of implementing security and infrastructure, he added.

The good news for ebusinesses is that core security technologies, such as PKI, digital certificates, digital signatures and cryptography can be adapted for wireless applications. According to Singh, secure handsets will become available by the end of this year and early next year. Additionally, in 18 months time, all phones will be internet enabled.

Singh warned companies to begin implementing wireless security measures as soon as possible. "If you are not doing this, then your competition is. You can't play the game of waiting for the phones to be ready because if your service isn't ready somebody else will offer a secure version."

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