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Telecommunication companies have long been strong pillars of communication. From landline infrastructure to internet service, they’ve helped run businesses and build economies. People rely on telecoms every second of every day, may it be sending emails or making phone calls.

This increasing reliance on telecoms and the sensitive data passing through their networks make these businesses highly attractive to cybercriminals. In 2019, almost 43% of telecom companies suffered from DNS-based malware, with 81% of them delivering a sluggish response by waiting up to three days to apply the necessary patches to secure the breach.

Telecom companies need to be resilient against cybersecurity threats, especially since they are becoming increasingly complicated, potentially exposing the entire system, the company’s reputation, and customer security to exponential risk.

8 Security Threats in the Telecom Industry and How to Address Them

1: Security threats in the internet of things

One of the biggest challenges for telecommunications and ISPs is the security of IoT networks. This year, approximately 25 billion devices are expected to be connected to the internet. Unfortunately, such large networks are attractive targets for data breaches and identity theft.

Players in the telecom industry need to use online data protection tools such as VPNs, SIM-based authentication mechanisms, and identity management solutions. VPN establishes a secure connection to the internet by routing it through a virtual tunnel where data traffic is encrypted. This conceals the user’s IP address when they use the internet, which also protects them from external attacks while allowing access to regionally restricted content. Similarly, quality identity management solutions can accurately and securely authenticate the identity of your employees or users in minutes.

2: Cloud security threats

Some of the most common cloud security threats are misconfiguration, data breaches, insider threats, lack of cloud security architecture and strategy, insufficient key management, and weak control planes.

It is crucial to monitor employee cloud usage and implement safeguards to prevent cloud data loss. In addition, managing mobile devices and defining permissions for enterprise and user-owned endpoints—including workstations, laptops, and smartphones—can effectively minimize risks.

3: Threats targeting subscribers

These threats include phishing, data breaches, and malware attacks. Among these, one of the most damaging and most widespread are phishing attacks. They account for 90% of all breaches small businesses face, growing 65% in the last year with over $12 billion in losses.

Part of what makes phishing attacks so damaging is that they’re always adapting, making it hard to train employees on consistent detection. However, having solid identity authentication in place can prevent phishing from victimizing your subscribers or users.  By requiring secure multi-factor authentication, particularly utilizing biometrics, even if a phishing scheme does manage to succeed in getting a username/password, they’ll be blocked from actually gaining access. 

4: DDoS attacks

Telecoms are a common target for DDoS attacks. In 2018, approximately 65% of DDoS attacks were directed exclusively to communication providers. DDoS is a Dedicated Denial of Service—an attack that disrupts regular traffic and results in, naturally, a denial of service to the victim. This service interruption can result in significant financial losses for a business.

DDoS attacks are a major challenge to prevent or counter. Work closely with your IT and cybersecurity teams to create a disaster recovery plan, as well as plan for how you might handle a DDoS attack. Due to the complex nature of each enterprise environment and how data is handled, there’s no single solution that can prevent an attack. 

5: DNS attacks

The increasing number of complex DNS attacks year by year is worrying. They primarily involve cache poisoning, rebinding attacks, and domain lockups. According to global data, 79% of businesses were exposed to DNS attacks in 2020 alone. A single attack can cost you around US$ 5 million.

Reliable practices to prevent DNS attacks include proactive cybersecurity measures for cyber resilience, such as identity management solutions for admin and server access. Similarly, you can use machine learning-driven policies to enhance firewalls.

6: Insider threats

While some attacks are vengeful, the problem with the telecom industry is that many employees or insiders are entirely unaware that they are even a threat. Moreover, few people are trained in telecom security measures. With up to 30% of people in telecom working remotely, connections to unsecured networks are at their peak.

In line with this, empirical evidence suggests that people still connect to unsecured Wi-Fi networks despite knowing the risks largely due to utility. Unfortunately, many applications do not encrypt the data sent by their users. A solution to this threat is cloud-based authentication, which includes biometric security. It protects your data no matter where your users or employees are connected.

7: Third-party risks

Third parties such as vendors, partners, email providers, service providers, web hosting, law firms, data management businesses, and subcontractors can all be a backdoor to your crucial infrastructure that an attacker can break into.

It can be challenging to maintain the security of your business and the providers involved in your industry. Managed telecommunications security services are essential to monitoring all elements of your network.

8: Terrorism and state actors

Bad actors can restrict physical elements that influence critical infrastructure and manipulate results through remote infiltration. They can acquire valuable intelligence on intellectual property, trade agreements, and personal data.

Since highly sophisticated threat groups carry them out, there is a good chance that many successful telecom infrastructure breaches are never detected.

To address threats from terrorists and state actors, always be wary of identity fraud. Comprehensive solutions are available such as top-tier identity proofing solutions that offer background check capabilities to authenticate identities and provide assurance for all the people in your system.

Secure Your Network

The telecommunications industry is undergoing significant transformations with plentiful opportunities—but also new risks. An increased presence of new assetsboth digital and physicalenlarges the required perimeter that your cybersecurity team needs to defend.

The threats discussed in this article are just a handful of the most common. Safeguarding against these is not an easy task or a one-time thing. Still, you can take a step forward with proactive identity and access management measures to strengthen the security of your infrastructure.

Protect your systems against identity fraud with proper identity management solutions. With strong telecom expertise, Q5id can provide a comprehensive scope of enterprise IT security services, from encrypted storage and simplified identity management to a patented system for transaction protection.

Strengthen your network resilience and future-proof your operations against emerging threats by contacting Q5id!

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