CRITICAL EVALUATION OF A KEY RESEARCH AREA: MOBILE APPLICATION SECURITY

(University Affiliation)

Introduction

This paper aims at critically evaluating findings from two research papers associated with mobile application security. Authored by He, Tian, Shen and Li (2015), the first journal is titled “Understanding Mobile Banking Applications’ Security Risks through Blog Mining and the Workflow Technology”; this paper will be referred to journal 1 in this essay. Journal 1 profoundly addresses the Security Risks closely related to mobile banking applications. The second paper, which will often be referred to journal 2 in this essay, was authored by Islam (2014) and is titled. “Systematic Literature Review: Security Challenges of Mobile Banking and Payments System.“ In effect, this paper will critically and comprehensively reflect on two journals delineated above as well as explicate whether the authors vividly explained the purpose of the studies. This paper will also analyse if the two journals collected enough evidence as well as whether the conclusion reach is in line with the evidence collected. Further, it will also assess if the two journals effectively answered the research questions. Accordingly, this paper will begin by briefly giving a brief summary of the purpose of each journal.

Brief Summary of Journal 1

In summation, He, Tian, Shen and Li (2015) give a review of the security concept associated with mobile banking applications. These authors posit that of the recent past, mobile banking applications have been considerably on the rise as they are increasingly becoming popular. A significant number of bank clients are using mobile banking applications to transfer money between various accounts, checking the balance associated with their personal account as well as making online payments when carrying out e-purchasing. However, in their paper, He, Tian, Shen and Li (2015) note that mobile malware is rapidly spreading and has significantly caused security alarms. In other words, the rapid spread of this malware has caused a series of security as well as privacy concerns, which includes leaking of sensitive financial data, identity theft as well as financial loss. The authors posit that various people including students are currently using mobile banking application, employees as well as housewives; these users have varying technology experience in different places such airports, workplaces, home as well as coffee houses. For this reason, it is critical for these users to understand the emerging threats as well vulnerabilities. Equally, understanding the counter-measures associated with mobile banking applications is essential for the future of mobile banking as well as banking user’s financial application. He, Tian, Shen and Li (2015) argue that little research has been done on the security risks associated with mobile banking applications hence the desire to carry out the study. The authors have chosen the blog mining research method to carry out their study. Moreover, the paper uses the workflow technology to kindle real-life scenarios associated with an attack on mobile banking applications. Thus, the paper’s primary objective is to give a summary of security risks associated with mobile banking applications by using the blog mining method. Besides, the other objective is to stimulate real-life attacks related to mobile banking application through the use of workflow technology.

Brief Summary of Journal 2

The second journal, which was authored by Islam (2014), seeks to address the challenges associated with the mobile banking applications; the challenges that come with mobile banking especially payments security system. In his paper, Islam (2014) argues that a significant number of financial institutions as well as other organizations often incorporate the use mobile banking. In fact, mobile banking today plays a significant role to financial institutions as it is a primary component of their growth strategy. A significant number of organizations have given their customers a platform that enables them to use their mobile phones access financial services (Islam, 2014). According to Islam (2014), a considerable number of security challenges associated with mobile banking as well as payment systems have been proposed by various researchers. Thus, in his study, Islam (2014) aimed at giving an insight into today’s situation of mobile banking as well as the payment system security challenge research issues. In effect, Islam (2014) carried out a systematic literature review associated with mobile banking security challenges papers that were published between 2006and 2013. As such, Islam’s (2014) paper gives a profound finding of the systematic review. The author managed to gather results of thirty publications that were chosen as primary studies. From these studies, the author gathered a significant number of security challenges associated with mobile banking. Besides, Islam (2014) employed the qualitative data analysis techniques to the data that had been extracted from his collection of primary studies. From his pilot study, Islam (2014) had gathered that a considerable number of financial services consumers are often afraid of trying out mobile banking because of security threats. However, in his paper, the author wanted to technically analyse these claims while at the same time laying a significant roadmap for financial institutions to be successful in the implementation of mobile banking technology. According to the author’s findings the primary challenge related to user adoption of mobile banking as well as payments is customers’ lack of confidence in the security of the financial services being offered in these organizations. In his paper, the author points out that there are currently new security risks that come along with mobile banking as well as the payment system, must be ironed out and dealt with.

Critical Analysis

Research Questions

Looking at the first journal by He, Tian, Shen and Li (2015), it is evident the paper does not clearly state the research questions. A research question is often important in any research paper as it is the fundamental core of the entire study. The research question perfectly shapes the literature as well as determines the methodology or techniques to be used in the study. Furthermore, it often guides all stages of inquiry analysis as well as reporting. According to McMillan, and Schumacher (2014), the research question is often answered directly through the analysis of the data. The journal paper authored by He, Tian, Shen and Li (2015) only sets out the objectives of the study and does not delineate the questions to be answered at the of the study. The paper only gives the objectives of the study rather than answers to previously stated questions. He, Tian, Shen and Li (2015) only signal to the reader about what the study would tackle; the authors posit that their study would summarise the current security risks associated with the mobile banking applications. The first research question could have been perhaps what are the current security challenges related to mobile banking applications?

On the other hand, however, the second journal authored by Islam (2014) clearly defines the research questions to be addressed by the study once complete. Before arriving at the research questions, the author begins by giving out a background information related to the research questions he is about to formulate. The author resonates well with research questions he gives a brief overview and a justification of why the research questions were chosen. Notably, the author argues that the many studies have tried to address the issue of mobile banking security challenge associated with the payment system. However, the author points out that most of the findings from these studies are fragmented. Islam (2014) believes that as of today there have been significant measures put up to address the various threats that may prevail and as such the current customers’ fear about security threats associated with mobile banking are born more of perception than reality. However, the author agrees that there would be need for more research to be conducted and solutions reached at; this will enable the industry to anticipate as well as address the evolving challenges that come with the introduction of different smartphones in the market. Thus, the author explores three research questions: i) are network as well as transport challenges associated with the mobile banking industry (ii) do the operating systems used by the mobile devices contribute to the challenges associated with mobile banking security?, and (iii) what is the relationship between mobile payment and online threat challenges?

Research Methodology

Since a few academic research studies or papers have discussed as well as summarised security risks associated with mobile banking applications, the authors in the first journal choose to analyse their topic using two approaches. To begin with, He, Tian, Shen and Li (2015) used the blog mining research method to analyse blogs pages that profoundly give an insight on the security of mobile banking application. The authors decided to use this method since mobile banking is a new topic, which has bot not be researched much thus difficult to gather enough academic papers associated with the above-delineated topic. Thus, the blog mining methodology provided a feasible way to understand the development related to mobile banking applications. Since blogs are often subjective as they present personal opinion and as such contain bias, the authors resorted to combining blog mining with their preceding academic literature research for the concept of security of mobile banking applications to be understood. In order to get the required blogs, the authors used Google blog search engine to retrieve the blogs. Out of more than 200,000 search research, the authors choose top 100 records.

Secondly, He, Tian, Shen and Li (2015) used the workflow technology to rouse multifaceted real-life situations within a laboratory setting with the sole purpose of evaluating attacks geared towards mobile banking. By using workflow tools such as Kepler scientific workflow system tool, the authors were able set up a security attack scenario, as an illustration, to depict how an attack on mobile banking application works. Notably, the first journal employed an effective research method.

For the second journal Islam (2014) used the systematic review methodology to realise the objective of the study. The methodology involves the formulation of the study objectives, selecting, analytically appraising, relating or synthesising information as well as drawing conclusion from applicable studies in order to come with unswerving evaluation. In other words, the systematic review research method can either employ quantitative or qualitative analyses, and it involves planning the review, carrying out the review as well as documenting the review. This research method may not be significantly reliable as there is no statistical technique that would be used and as such, the findings arrived at may not reflect the aspired objectives (Marshall and Rossman, 2014). The findings may be general thus does not offer a detailed and objective insight to the topic under discussion.

Data Analysis and Discussion

It is often typical of research papers to incorporate, present as well discuss the findings of their inquiry. As Ritchie et al (2013) posits, the main objective of incorporating a discussion in the research paper is to interpret as well as describe the importance of the research results in light of what was in the public’s domain or what was already known regarding the research problem that is being explored . In effect, looking at journal 1, the results are well founded as it gives a clear and detailed information regarding the topic under discussion as well as it meets the objective of the study as delineated earlier. The paper provides a summary of what experts as well as what other studies recommend as good strategies with regards to protecting the mobile banking users against any probable security threat that may affect them adversely while benefiting the financial services. Furthermore, the discussion in paper connects with the introduction through interpreting what the findings imply on the questions sought to be addressed in the study.

For instance, in their discussion, He, Tian, Shen and Li (2015) conclude that it is important for financial organisations to burgeon their security standards associated with their mobile banking solutions. Besides, they believe that mobile banking applications should be ready to provide their customers with simple and easy-to-use mobile banking services. They also point out that banks must come up with a secure mechanism that would ensure that data belonging to their customers are safe. The discussions and conclusions are indeed in line with the findings as the authors gathered that there are often series of security threats including specialised hacking that mobile banking users often face whenever they are using these services.

With regard to Journal 2, the author vividly delves into the findings of his research in the quest to answer the research questions identified prior to the research study. In the introduction, the author posits that the study would point out the new security risks in the market related to the mobile banking applications and the ways to mitigate these threats. Accordingly, the author manages to delineate the new risks in his findings as well as discusses the way forward in terms of mitigating this. From his research, Islam (2014), finds that the security threats associated with mobile banking can be categorised into three major areas: broad threats, handset threats as well as internet threats. As discussed in his introduction, the author successfully gives out a clear description of the threats delineated above in line with the categories discussed above.

Conclusion

Notably, the two journals that have been critically reviewed depict that the authors have the ability to think critically about the issues they were discussing. In this case, the authors were able to give a profound overview associated with security threats related to mobile banking applications. It is evident that the authors developed creative solutions associated with the mobile banking security threats based on the logical synthesis of the findings as well as to formulate a profound understanding of the issues raised in the problem statement.

References

He, W., Tian, X., Shen, J., & Li, Y. (2015). Understanding Mobile Banking Applications’ Security risks through Blog Mining and the Workflow Technology.

Islam, M. S. (2014). Systematic Literature Review: Security Challenges of Mobile Banking and Payments System. International Journal of u-and e-Service, Science and Technology, 7(6), 107-116.

Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2014). Designing qualitative research. Sage publications.

McMillan, J.H. and Schumacher, S., 2014. Research in education: Evidence-based inquiry. Pearson Higher Ed.

Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., Nicholls, C.M. and Ormston, R. eds., 2013. Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. Sage.