Debunking and addressing myths about consumers and mobile app security

According to commonly accepted truisms within the app development world, consumers care most about functionality, and they’re perfectly willing to give up strong security if it means they get better features faster.

Unfortunately, these bits of common knowledge about consumers’ attitudes towards mobile security are wrong, according to a recent Appdome survey of 10,000 mobile consumers from around the world. Far from accepting a "buyer beware" approach to mobile app security, consumers place a high priority on security and possess a sophisticated understanding of mobile security. In fact, 74 percent of all consumers would stop using an app if they learned it had been breached or hacked, and nearly half (46 percent) would tell their friends to do the same.

For CISOs and security teams, this new finding provides a strong endorsement of their position that strong security is a must-have in mobile apps. Security can be a strong competitive differentiator, and the data show that consumers will reward apps that show they provide strong protection.

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To that end, let’s take a deeper dive into three major debunked mobile app security myths.

Myth #1: Consumers will accept "buyer beware" security strategies for mobile apps.

To the contrary, consumers expect a high level of protection from their mobile apps. In the aforementioned survey, almost three-quarters (73 percent) of consumers said they’d stop using a mobile app if they knew it left them unprotected. And as noted above, almost half would spread the word to their social circle.

Consumers aren’t happy about the current "buyer beware" marketplace for mobile apps, but barring a public breach, they really have no other way to differentiate between those that are safe and those that leave them vulnerable. This presents a massive opportunity for app publishers to market their app on the basis of strong security, as it’s clear that there’s significant demand for products that consumers can trust.

Myth #2: Only regulated industries matter when it comes to mobile app security

Actually, consumers demand strong security from all types of apps fairly equally. A little over one-third (36 percent) expect mobile banking apps to have the highest level of security but then exactly one-third (33 percent) say that they have that expectation for "all transaction apps," which include any app that handles payments, from e-commerce to apps that require subscription payments. Another 12 percent say that retail and food delivery apps need high security.

Consumers do place a high value on security for apps that could potentially compromise their financial information, even those that don’t fall under a regulatory schema.

Myth #3: Consumers will exchange strong security for better features:

A solid majority (63 percent) of consumers see security and malware protection of equal or even greater importance than they do features. If consumers could discern which apps provide strong security, most would choose to use those apps.

So, while it may seem that consumers prefer features to security and that they’re fine with a "Wild West" marketplace where the level of any given app’s security remains a mystery, in fact, consumers place a very high value on security -- but unfortunately for them, they have no way of knowing that an app is insecure unless there’s a hack or vulnerability that’s widely publicized. 

There’s a significant market gap when it comes to mobile app security. Those publishers that can demonstrate to consumers that their apps are safe and that they’ve gone the extra mile to protect their financial, personal and other sensitive information, will be rewarded.

Image Credit: Anan Chincho / Shutterstock

Tom Tovar is CEO of Appdome

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