Copper Horse’s Mobile Security Intern Matt Williams experienced Mobile World Congress for the first time this year. Here’s his write-up on what went on out there:
It was that time of year again. When everyone in the mobile industry gathered in one place to exhibit, network and discover the latest updates in the ever-growing world of mobile phones. As usual, the Copper Horse team were there, from the Friday before the event to the Friday after. And here is a short summary of our experience of the largest ever Mobile World Congress!
The word “ever-growing” used earlier is a more than appropriate term to describe the current state of the mobile industry, as was evident by the scale of this year’s event. Mobile World Congress had moved from its previous home, the Fira Montjuic, across the city of Barcelona (the congress’s current and future host until at least 2018), to the substantially larger Fira Gran Via exhibition centre. The 2013 event consisted of nine Walmart sized halls, six of which were for exhibition stands, with the other three carrying out the roles of registration, a conference village and a theatre district. To walk from the Southern Entrance at Hall 1 to the Northern Entrance at Hall 8 would typically take 15-20 minutes; such was the enormity of the occasion. Consequently, a record 65,000 people were expected to attend (the final totals were over 72,000!). But prior to the new venue even being looked at, the Copper Horse team had a busy weekend of events to attend and people to meet.
The Weekend Before
After some initial settling in on the Friday and Saturday, consisting of networking, tapas tasting at local bars and collecting our badges, we headed up to the Nou Camp, home of Barcelona FC for a once in a lifetime trip to see them play. Along with some other industry colleagues we watched them beat Seville 2-1 in a hard fought game.
Copper Horse’s team were now ready to attend the first mobile-related event of the week – Innovation on the Fringe at MOB (Makers of Barcelona). Hosted by Heroes of the Mobile Fringe, Innovation on the Fringe is the speed-dating equivalent of mobile app demonstrations – time-wise at least! App demonstrators had two minutes to present their ideas, with a further two minutes of questions from an audience containing potential investors. A wide variety of ideas were presented – from neighbourhood change to online authentication with pictures.
Copper Horse’s main role in the event was not to witness the app presentations, but to give out an inaugural award. Namely, the Dead Technology Award – A golden calculator trophy presented to the technology that has either died off or flopped spectacularly in the past year.
Essentially the tech equivalent of the Golden Raspberry Award (Razzie) for Worst Film, attendees at the fringe event were given the opportunity to vote from a shortlist of nine nominees via SMS. At the end of the event, it was decided by the audience that Sony Ericsson’s demise as it was finally subsumed into Sony was to be the first ever winner of this prestigious title. And so it came to be that Sony Ericsson was propelled into Silicon Heaven (as they say in Red Dwarf). So congratulations (or should that be condolences?) to the now ‘deceased’ Sony Ericsson! RIP. You can watch the video of the shortlist below:
It was a quick dash for some filmed interviews, then back into town. Later on in the evening, it was our turn to become the host, as Copper Horse welcomed security experts from around the world to attend a dinner – now a well-established MWC tradition! The opportunity to talk with other experts in the field was a hugely interesting experience and the event took place at one of Barcelona’s top restaurants. This year’s security dinner provided a great insight into the week ahead at the Fira. And no sooner had the weekend arrived, then it was time for the congress to officially begin.
The primary focus of the first day of Copper Horse’s MWC was the Mobile Security Forum sessions held in the Theatre District of Hall 8. Security sponsors that included AdaptiveMobile, antivirus vendor AVG and network solutions provider Juniper Networks all held individual talks and panel discussions in relation to the world of mobile security. The topics debated were:
– Securing the Borderless Network
– Consumer Mobility and Privacy: Monetization without Alienation
– Offense or Defense: Security in an LTE World
The evening saw a great event hosted by Box. More security, good Tapas and red wine rounded off an excellent first proper day of MWC.
On Tuesday morning, Copper Horse Director David Rogers chaired the UKTI event “Cyber Security in theMobile World” – a seminar that identified what is meant by “Cyber Security” for mobile devices and networks, what is on the horizon in the context of threats, how genuine the threats are and what security methods could be put into place to make businesses and consumers more secure.
Following on from this were the Global Mobile Awards – We’ve already had the technology equivalent of the Razzies, now it was the turn of the best of the best to be recognised in the mobile industry equivalent of The Oscars. Over six hundred entries and nominees were in contention for the thirty-seven honours. Copper Horse judged in the ‘Best Mobile Safeguard & Security Products and Services’ category, which was won by Adaptive Mobile and Syniverse.
Among the other awards given out were Best Smartphone to the Samsung Galaxy S3, Best Mobile Tablet to Google and Asus for the Nexus 7 and the Judges Choice for Best Overall Mobile App to Waze, a mobile navigation app that allows users to add and see real-time traffic updates. The awards, hosted by comedian David Walliams, concluded, after which the team wound down the day at the annual Northern Ireland Beers and Scottish Whiskies – networking events held in close proximity to one another, in the UK section of the Hall 7 exhibitors.
Wednesday was a busy day for the team, with lots of meetings and events. It featured an early morning start at the MEF Kaspersky Breakfast Briefing. This session focused on the latest threats to app users, highlighting the most recent developments in mobile malware. A roundtable discussion and a series of presentations highlighting the scope of the threats took place. The main point to note was that the threat of mobile malware has never been greater, as there were approximately 4000 cases of it reported in 2012, of which 93% were on the Android platform. One of the primary reasons for the large number of cases being on Android devices, in addition to the fact that it is such an open operating system, was that many users ran older versions of the platform, which no longer had the necessary patches available. Overall, the breakfast was a very interesting event to attend.
In the afternoon, the GSMA’s Pat Walshe hosted an event ‘Mobile App Privacy: What’s Your View?’ with speakers from AT&T, Rovio (the makers of Angry Birds), Mozilla and the App Developers Alliance. There was some robust discussion, but there was a clear view that app developers need to focus on their own software quality and pay attention to security more seriously. There was also a good discussion on how small companies suddenly have to deal with regulators and lawsuits and what that growth experience is like.
After attending a few networking events in the evening, the day concluded with one of the best Barcelona parties – Swedish Beers. It’s a great chance to connect with other people as the week at MWC begins to draw to a close, particularly if you find one of the sponsors, who has the free drink tokens!
Thursday was the quietest day of the four during MWC. Whilst some visitors had seen what they had come to see and departed Barcelona, there were still plenty of events to explore and exhibitors to meet. Mobile Monday operated a continuous run of presentations, discussions and talks until the congress reached its 4pm closing time, whilst WIPJam saw mobile developers meet for a busy day of storytelling, pitches and demos. Just to show how busy the event was, meetings carried on right up until the last minute of the show. In the last formal Copper Horse meeting of the day, the Fira staff were taking up the carpet and removing screens while the meeting was still going on! The day ended with a quiet Paella (where another ad hoc meeting happened (!)) before a good night’s rest before the journey home.
Inevitably, the airport on Friday morning was chaos, with thousands of exhausted delegates desperate to leave. Some more accidental meetings at the airport and then finally, arrival in the UK!
All in all, MWC 2013 was a terrific experience and the busiest year yet for the Copper Horse team. Now starts the planning for next year!