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Telecoms 2018 report: Respondents mark security as biggest perceived threat to industry

A panoramic view of the telecom industry today and tomorrow

75% of the telecoms industry optimistic about 2019

This month Telecoms.com published their Annual Industry Survey report. With over 1000 responses from telecoms professionals all over the world, the report is a good reality check for the industry and provides a sober (and optimistic) look into the coming years.

Key findings:

  • Three quarters of respondents saw an increase in cyber-attacks over 2018
  • 75% felt positive about the telecoms industry’s business outlook for 2019
  • 79% believed Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is critical to their companies overall strategy
  • 61% believed emerging technologies and services are critical to telecom’s long-term success
  • 75% saw digital transformation as very important
  • Asia Pacific and North America lead in launching 5G commercial services

 Security and Cyber attacks biggest threat for Telecom industry

With cyber attacks showing no sign of abating, telecom businesses realise they need to adopt new generation defence technologies. 45% of the respondents experienced medium to high growth in attacks, with Malware or drive-by downloads and unwanted content or malicious websites being the fastest growing types of attacks. Three quarters of the respondents saw an increase in cyber-attacks over 2018, with the most deployed security solutions being reactive technologies such as DNS blacklisting, Next-Generation Firewalls and antivirus.

A majority of the respondents say a lack of expertise and budget constraints are the top obstacles and concerns when facing new cyber security solution deployment.

“When there is a breach, the operators and ISP’s are normally the first to be blamed” - Telecoms.com Annual Industry Survey 2018

More confidence in securing mobile data on 3G/4G than on IoT

End-users and network operators still rely on legacy technology: 63% of network operators use DNS blacklisting for end-user protection and 45% of operators are not confident that they are ready to manage IoT security requirements for their customers. The report states it is crucial to use next-gen technology, education programmes and start protecting users proactively.

Cloud Security challenges

The industry also is much more confident in providing security for mobile data users on 3G and 4G networks than in IoT. The level of confidence in managing security requirements of broadband users (on Wi-Fi and LAN) falls between the two. The report states that this indicates a higher level of confidence, the closer a service is to the core.

IoT on the other hand is new even for those telecom operators which have ventured into this business. Being good at connecting people, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll succeed at securing ‘things’, as they will face very different security challenges.

"The implementation of 5G will accelerate new services and introduce many more connected devices. This will lead to higher vulnerability for any business amongst which Mobile Operators." - Ditri Trio, Network & Security Solutions Architect at Infradata

The authors of the report state they have seen an increase in focused attacks on cloud service providers, the so-called Operation Cloud Hopper. Instead of a sweeping attack on a large number of companies, hoping some of them would be vulnerable, this new type of attack would target a few managed IT service providers (such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure) which, if successful, would spread malware to all clients on these outsourcing companies. New Cloud Security technologies would be needed to defend against new attacks like these.

While businesses recognise that as the attacking techniques constantly evolve, so should the IT Security technologies and business processes. From the breach of data security of Yahoo’s 500 million users in September 2016 to the shutdown of Google+ after the data of half a million users being leaked in October 2018, the industry recognises that even the world’s best webscale companies with the most advanced defence tools at their disposal are not ‘attack proof’.

5G benefits contributes to optimism in 2019

Even though the report shows Telecom experts are optimistic about the long-awaited rollout of 5G, 62% of them believe the benefits of 5G have not been communicated properly to consumers. With 5G consumer mobile devices hitting the market early this year this could raise concerns about consumers adopting 5-enabled devices.

One of the most frequently discussed topics about 5G is its key technology advancements such as virtualisation. This is also shown by 80% of the respondents saying they recognise NFV’s significance for the success of their business.

We asked Ditri Trio, Network & Security Solutions Architect at Infradata, what his perspectives are on 5G transition and its related challenges. “While the digital transformation is ongoing, companies continue to believe in automation. Securing this automation process has become of high importance as the amount of cyber attacks and malware grows every month. The implementation of 5G will accelerate new services and introduce many more connected devices. This will lead to higher vulnerability for any business amongst which Mobile Operators. The importance of a well thought-out cyber security vision and defence will therefore become a top priority in the near future.”

 

31 January 2019

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