How telecommunication companies can strengthen their cybersecurity

January 24, 2023

5 Min Read
How telecommunication companies can strengthen their cybersecurity

By Christoffer Augsburg - Growth Marketing Manager - e-Boks Nordic A/S

The impact of the telecommunications industry has only gotten greater in today’s digital and location-independent economy. While the telco industry is undoubtedly vital, it continues to be plagued by numerous problems. Firstly, infrastructure constraints limit it to specific, more urban areas. There’s also a supply concern. As more people demand data and connectivity, telecom companies are struggling to keep up in terms of speed and personalisation services. Unfortunately, not all telco businesses can quickly upgrade their equipment to match these needs, spurring yet another challenge ­­– intense competition. The attempts to keep pace with rivals have resulted in lower margins and financial returns.

According to media network Euractiv, lagging investments, a slow 5G rollout, geopolitical tensions, and cybersecurity are other critical concerns the industry grapples to answer. There’s also growing pressure to digitise massive government operations, such as the postal service.

Cybersecurity Risks in the Telco Industry

As the industry responsible for keeping the world connected, telcos are responsible for massive amounts of personal data. This quality makes it attractive to cyber-attacks, specifically hacking. Here are some of the cybersecurity threats that telecommunication companies continually face.

Malware attacks

Malware, or malicious software, refers to harmful programs that intend to disrupt service for whatever reason – from accessing a device and upsetting the user experience to acquiring sensitive information. Cybersecurity firm EfficientIP revealed that 43% of telecom operators suffered from DNS-based malware attacks in 2018. Furthermore, 81% took three or more days to apply a critical security patch after a detected data breach.

The industry also received the largest number of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Services) attacks in the first quarter of 2021.

Privacy hacks

As telecom companies shift to more personalised services, they collect more and more private data. However, investing in privacy cybersecurity systems seems to take a backseat to speed, storage, and other operational processes. The industry serves as an easy target for data breaches. In 2020, it received the most privacy-related fines with 69 sanctions ­– quadruple the penalties of tech firms. These fines are estimated to value between €200,000 and €27.8 million.

Hackers can sell this information to state-sponsored organisations collecting intelligence or even to dark web users.

Misuse of information

As mentioned previously, the wealth of information obtained by telecom companies has become increasingly valuable in this data-driven world. Unfortunately, less scrupulous businesses use this information to create strategies at the expense of the unwitting consumer.

Low-level security training

When a consumer sends life updates on a messaging app or posts images on social media, the last thing they worry about is a breach of personal space. Unfortunately, customers don’t always read the fine print, especially regarding telecom-related safety. They put inherent trust in their provider to protect them from such issues.

Moreover, cybersecurity isn’t always a priority in this intensely competitive industry. According to a McKinsey report, insider threat is another overlooked risk. Investigations found that telco employees were responsible for 50% of privacy breaches – whether performed maliciously or accidentally. While companies are aware of this weakness, solving it takes a backseat.

Lack of regulation

Losing control is a consequence of increased connectivity. A growing network means more entry points for attacks – from social media accounts to items involved in the Internet of Things. Even if telecom companies put a premium on privacy, they can only regulate the matters within their infrastructure.

How Can Telecoms Assure Privacy?

When an industry thrives, the outcome is always two-fold. While cybersecurity has become a mounting concern, telecommunications spillover into other aspects of life provides more opportunities and avenues to plug such issues. Telecommunication has long moved from being a simple way to connect to becoming a full-fledged digital life provider.

One efficient way to secure telcos is to partner with an established digital solutions provider. It has seen success on numerous occasions for both parties. For example, Bahrain’s Batelco – the kingdom’s national telco – inked a deal with e-Boks for a safe digital postbox solution. The postbox allows for direct communication between residents and the private sector enterprises as well as public sector establishments.

While postboxes work similarly to email, they are much more private thanks to a closed, encrypted network that prevents spam, unwanted ads and mail, phishing attempts, and viruses. Unlike email where anyone can sign up to as many accounts they want without checking, digital postboxes require an electronic ID login, which limits the network only to authorised users.

Batelco’s customised OneBox not only promotes security and efficiency but also increases revenues for the company.

Here are more reasons why telecoms should collaborate with a white-label digital solutions provider:

Increased security compliance

e-Boks adheres to the GDPR standards and trains its employees to practise confidentiality. Anyone involved in processing personal data is bound to a mandatory bond of secrecy. Thanks to its encrypted network, end users get to enjoy spam-free and low-risk communications.

Reduced overhead costs

The digital shift entails you no longer having to deal with manual processes and red tape. This streamlining leads to decreased use of resources from the company and end users. There are fewer operational costs and users get to enjoy more direct services.

Integrated services

Apart from digital postboxes, e-Boks provides digital signatures and payment by integrating with 3rd party services into their platform. Because of this, citizens of that country can continue to use the signature and payment services that are available in their location.

For example, MobilePay which is used in Denmark may not be a payment method in the U.K. However, e-Boks can integrate with the payment service they use in the U.K.

Promotes sustainability in more ways than one

Not only does digitising help future-proof the industry, but e-Boks is committed to greener, more sustainable methodologies. It has pledged to switch to carbon-neutral data fully by 2030 as well as to plant 120,000 trees within the same period.

e-Boks is also committed to fulfilling several Sustainable Development Goals, such as reducing the material footprint of paper and water per capita and per GDP and securing people’s legal rights, fundamental freedoms, legal identities, and their secure and transparent access to public and private institutions.

The telecommunication industry’s relevance will continue to flourish in the foreseeable future. Grow your business further with e-Boks.

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