Cybersecurity Trends in Telecom Industry

6 min read

The telecommunications industry is the pillar of ongoing digital transformation and cybersecurity is one of the biggest threats to it. The telecom industry is continuously evolving and is expected to achieve unprecedented level of faster communications, however, it is also heavily susceptible to cyber-attacks due to massive amount of data generation and the critical communication infrastructure. The most common cyber-attacks observed in telecom space include Phishing, Malware, DDoS, Access Breach, Integrity Compromise, Social Engineering among few others. Such cyber-attacks result in traffic flooding, hardware vandalism, communication hijacking, data breach, implanting malicious codes in the software etc., causing major disruption across the communication network and data compromise by the user.

With the onset of 5G, a fully connected environment is expected through several IoT devices, such as autonomous vehicles and industrial automation, smart grid, smart cities etc. However, it will in turn make telecom operators more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and offer cyber attackers with new ways to infiltrate the network and other system vulnerabilities, thereby indicating the dire need of a robust cybersecurity framework.  Several attempts are being made both by the telecom operators and cybersecurity vendors to build robust solutions adhering to the network specification as allocated by the 3GPP. There are several trends which to lead to focusing the cybersecurity aspects on the current telecom industry.

Trends

Increased usage of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques to strengthen the network security and management

Most of the telecommunication companies rely on the usage of artificial intelligence-based platforms to enhance the network security, data security analytics. The technology offers massive benefits such as network automation, predictive maintenance, and network management, however, managing the enormous amount of data generated by the telecom operators is a huge challenge. These AI and ML algorithms record the anomalies observed in the regular data patterns of the network and minimizes the risks of data breach both in real-time and future. Such potentials of the AI technology are not hidden from the cybercriminals. By using these techniques, they incorporate several malicious software on the customer’s device, resulting in the compromised data security of the user.

Proliferation of IoT devices for a more connected network

The shift towards the hybrid work culture has fueled the usage of IoT devices. By using a fully connected network IoT is transforming the way businesses functions. Devices such as smart watches, autonomous vehicles, smart grid, to smart cities are witnessing an up surge, thereby generating the need of a ubiquitous and secure network. However, due to complicated nature of IoT devices they have become a prime target for the cyber criminals. The essential security concerns with the proliferation of IoT devices includes ensuring network level security, data security, endpoint protection of the IoT devices and tracking and managing security of IoT devices on a constant basis. DDoS and botnet attacks are the majorly observed cyber-attack on the connected devices. Cybersecurity companies such as Microsoft, Trend Micro are now implementing Zero Trust approach to ensure security across all network layers and to verify security and analyze the telemetry in order to secure the digital networks from sophisticated cyber-attacks.

Adoption of multi-access edge computing (MEC) with onset of 5G

Realizing the potential of MEC, telecom companies are shifting their working model towards cloud-based networks architectures. With MEC at the edge of the network, CSPs can easily reduce the volume of the traffic flow offloaded at core network and therefore minimize the operational costs.  However, adoption of MEC and cloud-based model for a complex industry like telecom will expose it to cyber-attacks and further make it prone to vulnerabilities associated with network virtualization, interoperability within networks, privacy and insider threats and other such cyber-attacks. This demands for a strong security solution at the edge in order to experience a smooth migration from 4G to 5G.

Top Cybersecurity Companies in Teleocm and their offerings

In order to manage the cyber-attacks, cybersecurity entities are enforcing several approaches and strategies to timely detect the cyber-attacks and implement the mandatory steps required to mitigate those. Below is a list of few of top cybersecurity companies offering solutions for telecom industry.

1.1.1        Palo Alto Networks                   

Founded in 2005, Palo Alto Networks Inc. is headquartered in Santa Clara, California, US. It is one of the leading cybersecurity companies globally and offers a comprehensive portfolio of cybersecurity solutions across cloud, networks and mobile devices. AT&T, a telecom vendor utilizes Palo Alto’s Next-Generation Firewall to support its 5G-enabled IoT, OT and IT use cases. Palo Alto has also collaborated with NVIDIA for creating a security solution which includes Palo Alto Next-Generation Firewall with the NVIDIA’s BlueField-2 Data Processing Unit (DPU) for security in virtualized software-defined networks.

Palo Alto’s portfolio of solutions includes Network Security, Secure Access Secure Edge, Cloud-Native Security, Security Operations, Work from Home and Threat and Consulting solutions. Recently, in February 2022, the company launched its AI-driven platform Cortex® XSIAM, which is designed to accelerate the threat response. The company also upgraded its PAN-OS software, developed to collect, analyze and interpret potential zero-day threats in real time using inline deep learning technique.

In October 2021, the company collaborated with IBM to build secure 5G networks and address the unique security requirements of the telecom operators deploying 5G networks and edge services. The collaboration is focused on protecting the 5G network slice from the network attacks through end-to-end slice validation and towards enhancing integrated security solutions and services such as automation spanning multifunction network devices and VNFs, container and control plane security.

1.1.2        Microsoft

Microsoft was founded in 1975 and is headquartered in Redmond, Washington, United States. The company is one of the prominent leaders in the cybersecurity space. Microsoft Security’s product portfolio includes App and email security, Compliance services, Endpoint security, Identity and Management Access, Network Security, Privacy Management, Security Posture and SIEM and XDR services. Additionally, the company also offers Azure Private 5G Core, which is designed to secure the private 5G core network on an Azure managed edge platform. The solution supports both 4G and 5G standalone radio access network and provides centralized orchestration and automation of 5G core software, service management for configuration, and monitoring.

Recently in March 2022, Microsoft revealed its Azure Operator Distributed Services which is built by combining AT&T’s Network Cloud technology with Azure’s security, monitoring, machine learning, and analytics.

1.1.3        Allot  

Allot, a network and security solutions provider, was founded in 1996 and is headquartered in Hod Hasharon, Israel. The company has wide portfolio of security services, which includes Network Secure, 5G Net Protect, IoT Secure, Service Gateway, ClearSee Network Analytics and Smart5G among other services. The company clientele includes major telecom vendors such as Vodafone, Telenor, Telefonica, Jio, Rakuten and Dish.

In February 2022, the company collaborated with AWS to jointly develop cloud-based 5G Network Intelligence and cybersecurity solutions.

1.1.4        Trend Micro

Founded in 1989, Trend Micro is cybersecurity software company which is headquartered in Shibuya City, Tokyo, Japan. The company offers solutions AI and ML based solutions such as Hybrid Cloud Security, MEC Security, Enterprise 5G Security Management, Network Security, User Protection and Detection and Response. The company also incorporates the zero-trust strategy and helps in securing private mobile networks, such as 5G, 4G/LTE, and NB-IoT, with end-to-end security. Trend Micro recently disclosed its unified cybersecurity platform which is designed by integrating its native services to work in an ecosystem where it will co-share its space with third-party partners and competitors such as Google Cloud, Microsoft, Palo Alto Networks and other such companies.

1.1.5        Kaspersky

Kaspersky is another prominent entity in the cybersecurity solutions space. The company was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Moscow, Russia. The company’s products include Endpoint Security for Business, Hybrid Cloud Security, Endpoint Detection and Response Optimum, Security for Internet Gateway, Private Security Network, DDoS Protection and others. Telecom companies like Tele2 and VimpleCom are the clients of Kaspersky’s Endpoint Security and Security for Mail Server services respectively.

Kaspersky acquired Brain4Net, an SD-WAN and NFV orchestration software developer in October 2021, to strengthen its cloud security capabilities and XDR offerings.

1.1.6        Fortinet

Fortinet is cybersecurity solution provider which was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, United States. The company offers its services for both enterprises and small businesses. Its product portfolio includes services such as Network Security, Networking and Communications, Cloud Security, Zero Trust Access and FortiGuard Security, Secure SD-WAN, Fortinet Security Fabric and others.

In April 2022, the company announced new features of FortisOS 7.2 which unifies the convergence of networking and security across NGFW, SD-WAN, LAN Edge, 5G, ZTNA.

1.1.7        Cisco

Founded in 1984 and headquartered in San Jose, California, United States, Cisco is a technology conglomerate which offers cloud-based cybersecurity solutions. It provides solutions such as SD-WAN Security, Cisco Secure Application, Secure Data Center, Cisco Umbrella Mobile Protect and others. The solutions are designed to prevent malware and phishing attacks through predictive threat intelligence based on ML and statistical analysis of data. It also offers a secure infrastructure, Cisco SecureX which combines solutions such as SASE, XDR, and zero trust.

Cisco entered a strategic partnership with Comcast. Comcast is intending to explore new security frameworks such as SASE and zero trust, which integrates SD-WAN with advanced security solutions, in order to secure business infrastructure.

1.1.8        Bitdefender

Bitdefender was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Bucharest, Romania. The company offers cybersecurity solutions to various sectors including telecom, energy and utilities, banking and technology sector. The company’s telecom product portfolio consists of Cloud and Server Security, Gravity Business Security Enterprise, Managed Detection and Response Services and Gravity Zone Security for Workstations. These solutions are based on ML and automatically detect and prevent advanced cyber threats.

In April 2022, Bitdefender announced its enhanced Premium VPN Services. The enhanced features included encryption for all web traffic, built-in ad blocker, anti-tracker and addition of whitelist trusted websites.

1.1.9        Imperva

Imperva is cybersecurity service provider which was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in San Mateo, California, United States. The company offers protection against DDoS and botnet attacks amongst other network security services. The product portfolio includes Application Security, Data Security, Network Security, Cloud-Native Security and Security Automation.

1.1.10    Verizon

Founded in 2000, Verizon is headquartered in New York, United States. Verizon is a telecom network operator and offers cybersecurity solutions along with its other services. The cybersecurity portfolio includes Mobile Device & Endpoint Security, Network & cloud security, Cyber risk management, Web Security through firewall and Bot Management among other solutions.

Verizon partnered with Atos in order to power intelligent IoT solutions with private 5G multi-access edge computing for various critical operations. The solution “5G Edge Solution “developed by the two companies is supposed to manage the operational efficiency, mitigate risk and increase revenue.

Conclusion

The cybersecurity landscape is continuously evolving and with 5G rollouts in place several new security challenges will arise. The modern network architecture will offer malicious actors with numerous ways to infiltrate the system, therefore with proper understanding of the cybersecurity challenges associated with 5G deployment, organizations can effectively optimize their network configurations and manage data security. Strategies such as Zero Trust and Network Slicing should be considered as the key for a robust cybersecurity framework in the telecom industry.

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