Click here to close now.


Microservices Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Janakiram MSV, Jason Bloomberg, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Mobile IoT, Microservices Expo, Agile Computing, Wearables, Cloud Security

Mobile IoT: Article

Securing Mobile Payments

As the mobile payment industry continues to develop at lightning speed, best practices have yet to be solidified

As mobile phones become as indispensable as credit cards for purchasing goods and services, mobile payment developments are quickly gaining pace. Many different service providers are competing for their piece of the action. Within the last year, we have witnessed the arrival of mobile payment solutions such as MasterCard's PayPass, Google's Android-based eWallet scheme and Starbucks' emerging Quick Tap PayPass service.

A study from Juniper Research predicts that mobile contactless payment transactions are to reach nearly $50 billion worldwide in 2014 and NFC solutions will be used in 20 countries within the next 18 months.

However, with the widespread adoption of this technology, there is a need to debate which type of scheme works best and is the most robust.

Setting the Standard
As with traditional payments, standardization is vital. Several effective standards are already gaining momentum in delivering a secure mobile payments ecosystem:

  • Organizing Mobile NFC Services - The Trusted Service Manager (TSM) acts as an intermediary between Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and third-party service providers that wish to offer additional services to subscribers. GlobalPlatform's ‘System Messaging Specification for Management of Mobile-NFC Services' defines the messaging between each of the three parties to guarantee secure ‘provisioning' of services to the device.
  • The SIM Alliance Open Mobile API - Applications utilizing the Secure Element (the cryptographically secured piece of hardware on newer mobile devices) to secure their critical operations, such as payments, banking or transport tickets, can have a component running within the device's operating system that ensures the user can securely interact with the keyboard/touch screen while enjoying a rich graphical user experience. The SIM Alliance Open Mobile API allows application developers to utilize additional security of the Secure Element more easily, be this in a UICC SIM, a dedicated Secure Element built into the device or a secure SD card, by providing a common means of interfacing with it.
  • Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) - The Secure Element cannot easily host apps with a highly developed or cutting edge user interface, but can look after critical data on the mobile handset. Applications that require complex user interactions must run on the device's primary processor. The TEE secures these apps; GlobalPlatform is leading the standardization and interoperability in this area to ensure that software and data are sufficiently protected. For example, payment apps that run their user interface in TEE and their transaction security in the Secure Element would have a particularly high level of security.

Such standards encourage the industry to work together and benchmark best practices, but they remain as fundamental elements of successful mobile payment security. It is also required that technology that makes the security of provisioning mobile payment applications is as safe as issuing cards, and designing the necessary infrastructure requires much needed consumer confidence.

Security Issues Prompt Consumer Fear
Consumer's perceived fear surrounding new mobile payments technology often looms around security. The lack in consumer confidence originates from the threat of information being intercepted during a transaction. Yet risks are prominent at every stage of the mobile payment life cycle, including how payment applications get onto a phone securely in the first place. Constructing the data needed to issue a payment application and generate the secure messages to personalize a handset can be a lengthy and inefficient process, and the various cryptographic functions pose the possibility that sensitive data is at risk of exposure.

This initial set-up process or ‘provisioning' usually takes place over-the-air (OTA). The process increases security risks due to the various parties involved - typically the payment application provider (usually a bank), a Trusted Service Manager, the Mobile Network Operator and the end user. A vital success factor is maintaining security throughout this procedure, ensuring that no data is compromised. Successful provisioning utilizes unique personalization keys to not only encrypt the loading of data onto a device, but also the succeeding transactions performed by the application.

Mobile Payment Security as Secure as Traditional Payment Cards
By implementing the newest cryptography methods, users can ensure that ‘provisioning' occurs securely with the same level of protection provided by traditional payment cards. Providers of physical cards tend to favor Hardware Security Modules (HSMs), which generate and secure the encryption keys crucial to managing issuance risk. This method is also relevant for provisioning services to a mobile phone and can significantly reduce the complexities associated with the process while simultaneously avoiding the weakness of keys stored in software. The primary benefit of an HSM is to secure encryption keys and sensitive data in a way that safeguards such data from exposure. With this method, service providers reduce risk.

While encryption is crucial to the security of mobile payments, it isn't the only answer. For a more comprehensive approach to optimize security, encryption and authentication must be combined to provide protection for data exchanges and authorizations.

Reducing Risk
As the mobile payment industry continues to develop at lightning speed, best practices have yet to be solidified. Operators and related parties are still unsure about who ultimately controls the mobile wallet. But one thing that is for sure is that security remains the primary hurdle most consumers can't get over.

Extinguishing this concern is no easy task; it requires a mixture of robust standards and best practices, accompanied with the right technical path to ensure the experience is safe from the second that a user opts to download a payment app. If businesses want to take advantage of the mobile payments, security needs to be at the forefront of their approach to mitigating risk and encourage comprehensive consumer adoption.

More Stories By Ian Hermon

Ian Hermon is Product Marketing Manager at Thales e-Security. He has more than 15 years’ experience in the payment industry, being responsible for the Thales portfolio of payment and transaction security products. He represents Thales on both the MasterCard Global Vendor Forum and Visa Europe Vendor Forum, is a member of the Smart Card Alliance Payments Council and the Smartex Smart Payments Forum Steering Committee. Ian also represents Thales as a participating organization on the PCI Security Standards Committee and is an EMV subscriber.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Saviynt Inc. has announced the availability of the next release of Saviynt for AWS. The comprehensive security and compliance solution provides a Command-and-Control center to gain visibility into risks in AWS, enforce real-time protection of critical workloads as well as data and automate access life-cycle governance. The solution enables AWS customers to meet their compliance mandates such as ITAR, SOX, PCI, etc. by including an extensive risk and controls library to detect known threats and b...
In a report titled “Forecast Analysis: Enterprise Application Software, Worldwide, 2Q15 Update,” Gartner analysts highlighted the increasing trend of application modernization among enterprises. According to a recent survey, 45% of respondents stated that modernization of installed on-premises core enterprise applications is one of the top five priorities. Gartner also predicted that by 2020, 75% of
Despite all the talk about public cloud services and DevOps, you would think the move to cloud for enterprises is clear and simple. But in a survey of almost 1,600 IT decision makers across the USA and Europe, the state of the cloud in enterprise today is still fraught with considerable frustration. The business case for apps in the real world cloud is hybrid, bimodal, multi-platform, and difficult. Download this report commissioned by NTT Communications to see the insightful findings – registra...
Docker is hot. However, as Docker container use spreads into more mature production pipelines, there can be issues about control of Docker images to ensure they are production-ready. Is a promotion-based model appropriate to control and track the flow of Docker images from development to production? In his session at DevOps Summit, Fred Simon, Co-founder and Chief Architect of JFrog, will demonstrate how to implement a promotion model for Docker images using a binary repository, and then show h...
As the world moves towards more DevOps and microservices, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. The microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, NetFlix and so on, is at the heart of Cloud Foundry - a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) that is IaaS agnostic and supports vCloud, OpenStack and AWS. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Raghavan "Rags" Srinivas, an Architect/Developer Evangeli...
DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo 2014 Silicon Valley was a terrific event for us. The Qubell booth was crowded on all three days. We ran demos every 30 minutes with folks lining up to get a seat and usually standing around. It was great to meet and talk to over 500 people! My keynote was well received and so was Stan's joint presentation with RingCentral on Devops for BigData. I also participated in two Power Panels – ‘Women in Technology’ and ‘Why DevOps Is Even More Important than You Think,’ both ...
Our guest on the podcast this week is Jason Bloomberg, President at Intellyx. When we build services we want them to be lightweight, stateless and scalable while doing one thing really well. In today's cloud world, we're revisiting what to takes to make a good service in the first place. Listen in to learn why following "the book" doesn't necessarily mean that you're solving key business problems.
Application availability is not just the measure of “being up”. Many apps can claim that status. Technically they are running and responding to requests, but at a rate which users would certainly interpret as being down. That’s because excessive load times can (and will be) interpreted as “not available.” That’s why it’s important to view ensuring application availability as requiring attention to all its composite parts: scalability, performance, and security.
In their session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, co-founder and the VP of Product at, and Tomer Levy, co-founder and CEO of, will explore the entire process that they have undergone – through research, benchmarking, implementation, optimization, and customer success – in developing a processing engine that can handle petabytes of data. They will also discuss the requirements of such an engine in terms of scalability, resilience, security, and availability along with how the archi...
DevOps has often been described in terms of CAMS: Culture, Automation, Measuring, Sharing. While we’ve seen a lot of focus on the “A” and even on the “M”, there are very few examples of why the “C" is equally important in the DevOps equation. In her session at @DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, of F5 Networks, will explore HTTP/1 and HTTP/2 along with Microservices to illustrate why a collaborative culture between Dev, Ops, and the Network is critical to ensuring success.
Overgrown applications have given way to modular applications, driven by the need to break larger problems into smaller problems. Similarly large monolithic development processes have been forced to be broken into smaller agile development cycles. Looking at trends in software development, microservices architectures meet the same demands. Additional benefits of microservices architectures are compartmentalization and a limited impact of service failure versus a complete software malfunction....
The last decade was about virtual machines, but the next one is about containers. Containers enable a service to run on any host at any time. Traditional tools are starting to show cracks because they were not designed for this level of application portability. Now is the time to look at new ways to deploy and manage applications at scale. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, Brian “Redbeard” Harrington, a principal architect at CoreOS, will examine how CoreOS helps teams run in production. Attende...
For it to be SOA – let alone SOA done right – we need to pin down just what "SOA done wrong" might be. First-generation SOA with Web Services and ESBs, perhaps? But then there's second-generation, REST-based SOA. More lightweight and cloud-friendly, but many REST-based SOA practices predate the microservices wave. Today, microservices and containers go hand in hand – only the details of "container-oriented architecture" are largely on the drawing board – and are not likely to look much like S...
With containerization using Docker, the orchestration of containers using Kubernetes, the self-service model for provisioning your projects and applications and the workflows we built in OpenShift is the best in class Platform as a Service that enables introducing DevOps into your organization with ease. In his session at DevOps Summit, Veer Muchandi, PaaS evangelist with RedHat, will provide a deep dive overview of OpenShift v3 and demonstrate how it helps with DevOps.
Any Ops team trying to support a company in today’s cloud-connected world knows that a new way of thinking is required – one just as dramatic than the shift from Ops to DevOps. The diversity of modern operations requires teams to focus their impact on breadth vs. depth. In his session at DevOps Summit, Adam Serediuk, Director of Operations at xMatters, Inc., will discuss the strategic requirements of evolving from Ops to DevOps, and why modern Operations has begun leveraging the “NoOps” approa...
All we need to do is have our teams self-organize, and behold! Emergent design and/or architecture springs up out of the nothingness! If only it were that easy, right? I follow in the footsteps of so many people who have long wondered at the meanings of such simple words, as though they were dogma from on high. Emerge? Self-organizing? Profound, to be sure. But what do we really make of this sentence?
Containers are changing the security landscape for software development and deployment. As with any security solutions, security approaches that work for developers, operations personnel and security professionals is a requirement. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, Kevin Gilpin, CTO and Co-Founder of Conjur, will discuss various security considerations for container-based infrastructure and related DevOps workflows.
Last month, my partners in crime – Carmen DeArdo from Nationwide, Lee Reid, my colleague from IBM and I wrote a 3-part series of blog posts on We titled our posts the Simple Math, Calculus and Art of DevOps. I would venture to say these are must-reads for any organization adopting DevOps. We examined all three ascpects – the Cultural, Automation and Process improvement side of DevOps. One of the key underlying themes of the three posts was the need for Cultural change – things like t...
There once was a time when testers operated on their own, in isolation. They’d huddle as a group around the harsh glow of dozens of CRT monitors, clicking through GUIs and recording results. Anxiously, they’d wait for the developers in the other room to fix the bugs they found, yet they’d frequently leave the office disappointed as issues were filed away as non-critical. These teams would rarely interact, save for those scarce moments when a coder would wander in needing to reproduce a particula...
It is with great pleasure that I am able to announce that Jesse Proudman, Blue Box CTO, has been appointed to the position of IBM Distinguished Engineer. Jesse is the first employee at Blue Box to receive this honor, and I’m quite confident there will be more to follow given the amazing talent at Blue Box with whom I have had the pleasure to collaborate. I’d like to provide an overview of what it means to become an IBM Distinguished Engineer.