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Cyber Risk Model for Mobile Digital Financial Services (mDFS):

Strengthening access to secure mobile money systems

Paying for produce at a market using a mobile phone

Leveraging Cyber Expertise for Global Good

We believe that the mobile money ecosystem should be secure in all parts of the world. But in some places financial apps present higher risk. Apps often are text messaging-based and not associated with banks. Our project, Securing the Mobile Money Ecosystem: Dynamic Cyber Risk Model for Improving Secure Access to Mobile Digital Financial Services (mDFS), combines MITRE’s extensive experience in cybersecurity and statistical analysis to estimate the impact of technical security threats and improve secure access to mDFS. Read our research to learn more about how we created a cyber risk model that will impact mobile security.

Dive into our white paper

What is a Risk Model?

Identify the Risk

When system components (people and things) interact, even benign interaction creates risk to the system’s integrity. More than one system creates a system-of-systems. A risk model helps understand system-of-systems security.

Model the Risk

A risk model is a decision framework that analyzes how system actors and components, or multiple dependent systems, interact and create cybersecurity risks, and what can be done to protect the ecosystem.

Apply the Model

The model enables a user to identify and isolate relevant system components (people and things), which then highlights likely system risks, and what solutions the user should invest in to reduce system risk.

Two-Lens Approach

Like 3D glasses, the complete picture of the mobile digital financial service security still is not clear unless viewed through two lenses.

3D Glasses Illustration. The blue technical lens references Understanding how hardware and software interact, how adversaries can attack (vectors), and what improvements can stop attacks (mitigants). The Red lens represents the non-technical lens, which refers to understanding how policies, laws, governance, and education affect people's interactions with technology and can strengthen access to mobile money.

Creating data to inform policy

Our project provides analytical evidence that mobile money stakeholders can use to reconcile recommendations and support requests for funding.

Initial Impact

We have created an interactive cyber risk model that produces estimates of the impact of eight different kinds of technical threats to mDFS in specific circumstances, such as situations where 4G or 5G phones are rare. The model can also incorporate the impact of nontechnical factors such as gender policy and average education level to foster equality and diversity.

Our Work Continues

While we designed the model for use in mobile finance, it is foundational work that also inspires technical solutions that can also benefit mobile health and agriculture. Developing secure access to financial management, health information and food production means a safer world for communities currently at risk.

Evaluate the Risk

Data Modeling For a Safer World

The portal is an interactive software platform that empowers users to apply the unique analytical risk model developed by our researchers and produce valuable estimates of cyber threat magnitude. Individuals can tailor the results to their specific situation and the platform can be easily updated as circumstances change.

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