Telcos to dominate the security market in the next decade
The world has never been more dependent on the internet. The time is ripe for telecoms companies to cement their role as the gatekeepers of its ever-growing digital services, writes Neil Cook, the chief security architect at Open Xchange.
They are responsible for the pipes through which everything flows. From music and maps to malware and malvertising, it’s time for communications service providers (CSPs) to recognise their valuable position as the gate-keepers of data. What’s more, these companies are uniquely positioned to secure this flow of data, adding huge value in the process. CSPs must shrug off their reputation as simple ‘dumb pipes’, useful only for delivering other, more interesting internet services. By blocking malicious and inappropriate content at the IP level these providers can become invaluable security partners for consumers and business.
Human error is one of the biggest weaknesses in any cyber security scenario. As security defences become more comprehensive, hackers are increasingly exploiting human fallibility and gullibility to extract sensitive cyber information. 91% of attacks by sophisticated cybercriminals start through email. When a user follows a phishing email to a fake website that lures them into providing valuable details they open themselves, and their organisation, up to fraud, loss of intellectual property and infection from malware. This tactic has been around for decades but users are still falling for it with astonishing regularity.
User error is the Achilles heel of the cyber security industry, which has been struggling to account for it for years. Fortunately for CSPs, the answer to this problem can be found in the building blocks of the internet itself: DNS. The Domain Name System, the phone book of the internet, connects users and email addresses to servers. By building security protection into this core infrastructure, ISPs can screen unsafe sites and content, alerting users before they run into trouble. This includes blocking malicious or inappropriate sites and malware from the moment a user types in a URL. This proactive, real time defence can play a crucial role in defending users from fraudulent websites and phishing emails.
But the potential value of this innovation to telcos runs deeper still. In 2016 a number of highly publicised DDoS attacks used IoT devices overwhelm websites and services. Famed ‘Mirai’ and ‘LizardStresser’ botnets have hijacked traffic from unsecured connected webcams, lightbulbs and TVs to direct 620Gbps at target websites, forcing them offline. Here we see the scale of this opportunity for telecom companies. A crucial advantage of providing a network-wide security layer, based on DNS filtering and restrictions, is that it not only protects a user’s laptop or phone, but all devices on their Internet connection. This means it also covers smart TVs and all the other ‘Internet of Things’ devices connected in a user’s home.
The primary differences between IoT devices and computers is that there is no direct user interaction with the operating system, the software is usually not updated and they can be online 24×7. All of these traits make these devices the perfect targets for hackers. Effectively securing IoT devices is one of the biggest problems facing the industry, as traditional endpoint solutions are simply not effective, making network-wide protection the most effective way of securing these devices.
CSPs are sitting on the solution to a problem that the multi-billion dollar security industry has been trying to solve for years. It’s time for telecom companies to wake up and recognise the enormous financial opportunity they have to provide customers and businesses with the real value of holistic, DNS level protection.