Who should you trust more: Social log-in services or your mobile operator?

Last updated: 13 December 2019

Social log-in services can be excellent time-saving tools and are a very convenient way to avoid the tedious process of online registration, filling in numerous forms and general password fatigue. So why are Facebook and Google’s versions of this tool not used more often? The answer’s simple; privacy is paramount to security, so why would you entrust your details to a social network which anyone has access to? Understandably, given this point, there is a distinct lack of trust among end-users when it comes to social log-in services as many fear their location or sign-in details might be shared on their wall and subsequently on network newsfeeds, or worse.

Despite this, we should still recognize how log-in services are a good idea, providing a way to simplify consumers’ online authentication journeys. But what’s the solution? A sign-in solution from sources you trust, incorporating mobile ID management and secure mobile authentication. Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are by far the most trustworthy source we can rely on for this type of solution, for a variety of reasons such as the fact that MNOs have completely different privacy structures to social media businesses such as Facebook and Google+. Furthermore, end-users pay a subscription to their MNO to provide a service to the number they use (social media services remain ‘free’); with this subscription comes a responsibility to protect privacy and to retain trust. This is especially important as nearly everyone has a number now; with this comes an increased demand for mobile digital services, which is why the GSMA launched its Mobile Connect initiative, a new service that will allow consumers to securely access a wide range of digital services using their mobile phone account for authentication.

Anne Bouverot, Director General of the GSMA, clarified the rationale behind this launch by saying: “As we move to an increasingly connected world, more consumers than ever are accessing information and using a range of online services across both mobile and fixed line networks. This digital life brings great benefits to consumers, but also introduces new concerns over the security of online identities. Mobile operators are ideally placed to provide the necessary authentication capabilities to enable consumers, businesses and governments alike to interact and access services in a private, trusted and secure environment. The Mobile Connect initiative addresses this critical requirement.”

This initiative makes sense, and is undoubtedly good news for end-users who are far more likely to trust their MNO with their details rather than a social media service. Moreover, the neutrality of MNOs has the potential to push mobile ID log-in services beyond the simple commercial website authentication use. This time saving innovation could also be used by banks, enterprises and even governments. With MNOs providing this form of single sign-on solution, the usage possibilities are greatly increased. And, at the same time, user details are more secure as there’s less chance of your details being broadcast on a social network newsfeed.