Nokia Networks aims to safeguard network operations with two security launches
As the complexity of mobile network security increases with 3G/LTE and telco cloud/SDN, a centralised identity and access control system able to authenticate operator staff and provide secure, granular access to network elements is required.
Potential vulnerabilities in the Signalling System 7 (SS7) protocol could open the door to advanced fraud, hijacking of subscriber communications or Denial-of-Service attacks. To help operators deal with the multifaceted demands of protecting security and privacy in the smartphone and Internet of Things (IoT) era, Nokia Networks has extended its security portfolio with new protection capabilities complemented by expert professional services in assessment and deployment.
Dealing with rocketing security complexity
Two new Nokia Networks solutions aim to help shield network operations from unauthorised access, both from external attackers and from staff within organisations:
Nokia’s Network Access Guard addresses the sheer intricacy that operators face in managing internal staff access to multiple network element systems. It secures, identifies and monitors employee access while simplifying the way privileged users handle critical network elements.
In addition, Nokia’s Signalling Security Solution can identify weaknesses in an operator’s SS7 infrastructure and implement a firewall to protect against subscriber data being hacked as well as other malicious intrusions. Nokia Networks is the only major telecom infrastructure vendor to offer such end-to-end SS7 protection.
How to protect against internal and external threats
Nokia’s Network Access Guard implements centralised identity access management in multivendor networks. Protection is achieved through a combination of single sign-on authentication for user simplicity, session management to control who accesses network resources, audit logging to track user sessions, and user policy management. The software can secure traditional, virtualised and Software Defined Networks (SDN) supplied by multiple vendors. It helps avert service interruptions that could damage customer experience, cause revenue loss and lead to Service Level Agreement (SLA) penalties.
Nokia’s Signaling Security Solution consists of two elements. The first, Nokia Signaling Guard tracks SS7 sessions and inspects signaling traffic in real time. Thus it is able to detect external attacks that normally would not be recognised by conventional SS7 network elements. The solution can block unauthorised access to subscriber profiles and helps assure service availability. Efficient fraud protection builds subscriber trust to secure revenue streams.
The second element, Nokia Security Assessment, is a new expert service that analyses an operator’s network security architecture and protection of network elements to pinpoint vulnerabilities that could lead to security breaches or service disruptions. The insights provide the foundation for planning and implementing security improvements to allay subscribers’ privacy concerns, encouraging higher use of mobile services.
Commenting on the announcement, Patrick Donegan, chief analyst, Heavy Reading, said: “The vulnerability of SS7 to eavesdropping and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks surfaced as an issue for operators during the summer of 2014. As with other vulnerabilities that emerge with older technologies that are expected to remain in the network for a significant period of time, these are vulnerabilities that operators need to be looking to close off.”
Giuseppe Targia, VP Security Business, Nokia Networks, said: “Security in network operations involves a number of critical aspects, and with these new launches we are addressing two of the most important ones. Firstly, multivendor and multitechnology deployments in mobile networks create a challenge in managing access control policies from a security perspective, thus making it difficult to protect the network from insider threats or internal staff errors. This is why a new, carrier-scale, identity access management strategy is needed.”
Targia added: “SS7, a well-known protocol within the telecom network industry used by hundreds of cellular companies to operate and communicate with one another, has been shown to be vulnerable. Thus operators nowadays need an easy way to deploy an SS7 security solution in order to protect the network against privacy and fraud attacks.”