Philip Hung Cao

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ISACA International President: The Power of Convenience

2 min read


Convenience is a great motivator. The search for greater conveniences for businesses and consumers has created game-changing paradigm shifts. ATMs, online banking, movie streaming and even household appliances all transformed businesses. They opened up completely new markets, and at the same time, marked the end for businesses that didn’t innovate.

But each convenience, and each new service and technology comes with new, often uncharted risks. Mobile payments are no exception. The global mobile payment transaction market, including solutions offered by Apple Pay, Google Wallet, PayPal and Venmo, will be worth an estimated US $2.8 trillion by 2020, according to Future Market Insights.

These expectations are impressive and indicate that this is an area of potential growth and worth further exploration. A recent ISACA survey of more than 900 member security professional shows that an overwhelming majority (87%) expect to see an increase in mobile payment data breaches over the next 12 months, yet 42% of respondents have still used this payment method in 2015. The 2015 Mobile Payment Security Study suggests that people who use mobile payments are unlikely to be deterred by security concerns.

Other data from the survey show that cybersecurity professionals are willing to balance benefits with perceived security risks of mobile payments:

  • Only 23% believe that mobile payments are secure in keeping personal information safe.
  • Nearly half (47%) say mobile payments are not secure and 30% are unsure.
  • At 89%, cash was deemed the most secure payment method, but only 9% prefer to use it.

ISACA survey respondents also ranked the major vulnerabilities associated with mobile payments:

  1. Use of public WiFi (26%)
  2. Lost or stolen devices (21%)
  3. Phishing/shmishing (phishing attacks via text messages) (18%)
  4. Weak passwords (13%)
  5. User error (7%)
  6. There are no security vulnerabilities (0.3%)

According to those surveyed, currently the most effective way to make mobile payments more secure is using two ways to authenticate their identity (66%), followed by requiring a short-term authentication code (18%). Far less popular was an option that puts the onus on the consumer—installing phone-based security apps (9%).

All people using mobile payments need to educate themselves so they are making informed choices. You need to know your options, choose an acceptable level of risk, and put a value on your personal information. From my experience, the best tactic is awareness. Embrace and educate about new services and technologies.

Christos K. Dimitriadis, Ph.D., CISA, CISM, CRISC
ISACA International President

[ISACA Now Blog]

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