Is Wireless Really Worth the Risk?
If indeed wireless is here to stay, what are the security risks and what can be done to remediate them?
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Over the last three decades, the world has become amazingly connected, with 4.43 billion mobile phone users globally in 2015, three billion internet users and a digital economy that currently accounts for around 5% of global GDP.
Without an infrastructure backbone to drive this, this communications revolution simply would not have happened.
The insatiable appetite of consumers for internet and mobile services makes the sector incredibly appealing for new entrants, who appear regularly to undercut established companies. In response, many telecommunications companies are seeking to diversify, offering related services to their existing customer base.
For example, cell providers looking to expand their portfolio have identified mobile payments as a key area of opportunity . However, this approach poses its own challenges, with additional regulation and legislation around financial products impacting business efficiency and operating margins.
All the while, telcos are under enormous pressure to keep infrastructure resilient while constantly improving and innovating their services - with faster speeds and better cell coverage demanded from customers, along with expectations of lowest possible pricing.
As the sector that drives the flow of communications and data worldwide, telecommunications organizations are clearly seen as a target by those wishing to subvert or exploit critical infrastructure for their own ends.
Nation states are at the top end of the cyber threat scale and should be considered both highly capable and highly motivated. Foreign intelligence agencies have a long history of targeting comms providers for eavesdropping and information gathering. Nor should the growing threat of Computer Network Attack (CNA) be underestimated. This is also true of other highly political groups such as terrorists or activists, who seek to disrupt any communications infrastructure seen as important to meeting their agendas.
The sector is also becoming a growing target for organised criminals, particularly with telcos who have diversified into financial products. MWR have observed criminal groups who historically targeted banks, now adapting to attack telcos with the same techniques used in the financial sector.
This constantly changing cyber threat landscape means traditional security measures have been found wanting, as evidenced by the torrent of cyber breaches reported regularly. Forward-thinking organizations must to build on the effective parts of their cyber security programmes with practical solutions in order to stay one step ahead.
In a margin-squeezed marketplace, many telcos are finding themselves in the difficult position of having to reprioritise security spending, but given the very real cyber threats to the sector, careful thought should be given before doing so.
Using the research–led approach that allows us to understand and respond to the cyber threats to this sector, MWR has been successfully advising telcos for a number of years. In this time, we have developed highly-effective security solutions for the sector, enabling organizations to embrace new technologies, identify strategic risks and protect their most critical IT components.
Along with a true understanding of the cyber threat to the sector, MWR has long experience across the telco industry, working with and understanding the strategic needs for a range of clients; from MTO backbones and OTT providers, all the way through to telco infrastructure firms.
Our experience within the financial services sector perfectly positions us to advise telcos looking to diversify into financial products. Our technical pedigree in the sector is second-to-none, having published cutting-edge telecommunications research on MPLS and LTE.
Experience has taught us that if your business can resist targeted cyber-attacks from advanced nation states, it can resist cyber-attacks from almost all threat actors.
With solutions such as Targeted Attack Simulations and Countercept, delivered by consultants that truly understand the mind of an attacker, your organization can be safe in the knowledge that you are using the most advanced defenses to resist the most advanced attackers.
By taking a threat-based approach, MWR can help you build a realistic view of your security posture, adopting programmes that are highly effective in practice.
An example of this is Attack Path Mapping delivered via our Cyber Defense practice, a unique solution that uses real-world attack methods to determine the risk to your most critical assets, providing your organization with actionable intelligence that can be used to mitigate risks.
Alongside services such as this, MWR can also author or review your overall cyber security strategy, using our unique experience to ensure it is fully aligned to your business risk appetite and threat profile.