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MEF Director of Programs James Williams was recently joined by Amandeep Grover, Staff Manager of Strategy and Partnerships, for a discussion around the topic of SMS security and encryption messaging.

Qualcomm was established in 1985, its early research into CDMA wireless cell phone technology was funded by selling a two-way mobile digital satellite communications system known as Omnitracs.

After a few years, the 2G standard was adopted with Qualcomm’s CDMA patents incorporated.

Over the years, Qualcomm expanded into selling semiconductor products in a predominantly fabless manufacturing model. It also developed semiconductor components or software for vehicles, watches, laptops, wi-fi, smartphones, and other devices. Today, Qualcomm is perhaps most widely known for cellular connectivity – modems ,3G, 4G and now 5G, along with many other areas of inventions including artificial intelligence, Bluetooth, WiFi, Processors, RF systems.  Outside of Mobile business, Qualcomm has taken its technologies to adjacent markets including Auto, Industrial and Consumer IoT, PCs, tablets, XR, wearables etc.

James kicked off the webinar by pointing out that Messaging plays a big role in the daily lives of all and has been in present since last 30 years. Consumers have many choices for messaging today from OTT apps such as WhatsApp, iMessage, Signal, Telegram to operator messaging apps that use SMS/MMS. Around 5.5 B SMS are sent each day and about 7.7 billion global citizens make use of a messaging app.

James pointed out SMS security has been a big concern lately, with many OTT messaging companies calling out security as a key parameter that differentiates their app vs. others. Traditional messaging app, widely used across the world, is one of the least secure messaging apps, where messages are not end-to-end encrypted unlike bigger OTT apps.

Aman shared examples from recent past where SMS was hacked leading to leak of personal information of thousands of people and many $M of loss.

Benefits of making SMS secure

Aman and James discussed many potential business opportunities for making SMS secure. Example,

  • Making personal information secure for consumer-to-consumer chat.
  • On the Enterprise side, many industries could benefit from this,
    • Financial services and banking could send personal and banking information (one-time-passcodes etc.) to consumers knowing it is encrypted and secure.
    • Healthcare, imagine receiving personal healthcare information, doctor and hospital test results, X-ray scans over SMS/MMS.
    • Ecommerce companies communicating information on packages over SMS/MMS.

How can Qualcomm technologies enable SMS security?

Qualcomm has many leading technologies on both hardware and software to develop trust on a device and connection. These technologies are in execution environments, cryptographic components, and hardware-based security services. Qualcomm invested in own security infrastructure called Qualcomm wireless edge services which is designed to facilitate mass scale and trusted device provisioning, security and lifecycle management.

Qualcomm achieves this by securely provisioning each device with a unique pair key that is on the hardware and cannot be hacked. The keys act as a password for encrypted and decrypting messages. Qualcomm along with key partners in the value chain such as OEMs, SMS aggregators, Enterprises, could implement this end-to-end SMS encryption.

The webinar also focused on sharing deep dive on the technology and use cases, giving real world, valuable information on how to achieve SMS security. Member questions also uncovered industry insights around use of new technologies such as quantum computing and AI for SMS security.

Overall it was a great discussion and will be great to see how this technology once implemented changes the world of SMS as we know it.

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