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Ensuring Cybersecurity Compliance in Telecom: Challenges and Components

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May 9, 2023

Ensuring Cybersecurity Compliance in Telecom: Challenges and Components


As competition in the broadband market intensifies and new technologies such as multi-access edge computing and private cellular networks become more prevalent in the 5G era, the need for cybersecurity risk management in telecommunications is growing. To stay profitable and secure, it's becoming increasingly vital for mobile operators to maintain their infrastructure.

Telecommunications operators store vast amounts of personal data and are responsible for ensuring the stability of the communication services they provide. A data breach or service disruption resulting from a cyberattack can cause severe financial and reputational damage to the company and impact its customers. In a highly competitive market, such consequences can be devastating.

Why compliance is important for cybersecurity in telecom?

The telecommunications industry is one of the most critical infrastructure providers in the world, connecting individuals, businesses, and governments to the digital world. With the increasing reliance on technology, it's essential for telecommunications companies to secure their networks, systems, and customer data from cyber threats.

Here’s why cybersecurity compliance should be prioritized for the telecom industry.

  • Protect Customer Data: Telecommunications companies hold sensitive information about their customers, including financial data, personal information, and confidential communications. Cybersecurity compliance helps to protect this data from theft, misuse, or unauthorized access.
  • Maintain Trust: Customers trust telecommunications companies to keep their data safe and secure. Cybersecurity compliance helps to maintain this trust by demonstrating the company's commitment to protecting customer information.
  • Comply with Regulations: Many countries have strict regulations regarding data privacy and security, and telecommunications companies must comply with these regulations to avoid legal penalties.
  • Prevent Cyber Attacks: Cybersecurity compliance helps to prevent cyber attacks by implementing security controls and processes to detect and respond to threats.

What are the major cybersecurity challenges for the telecom industry?

Telecom providers collect a significant amount of sensitive data from their clients, including:

  • Personally identifiable information (PII)
  • User behavior data
  • IP addresses
  • Logs, and more

If a breach occurs, the news can spread rapidly once the customer data becomes available on the darknet. Some of the major challenges for the telecom industry are as below.

  • Supply chain attacks: Supply chain attacks are another critical challenge for the telecommunications industry. Operators offer a range of services, including telecommunications and internet connections, cloud hosting, and web hosting, making them an appealing target for attackers. If an operator's service is compromised, attackers can gain access to the entire infrastructure of their customers.
  • Advance persistent threats (APT): Telecommunications providers are an attractive target for APTs and targeted attacks, with 79 high-impact attacks for every 10,000 workstations in telecom companies in 2021. In comparison, 70 APTs hit IT businesses, 57 attacked government entities, and only 26 attacked banking institutions.
  • DDoS: DDoS attacks are also a major concern for telecommunications providers. One recent example was an attack on an internet provider in Andorra during a Minecraft tournament, causing a nationwide connectivity shutdown.
  • Unpatched network equipment: Unpatched network equipment, such as routers, switches, terminals, and wireless devices, can become entry points for criminals. Threat actors can exploit vulnerabilities in these devices to gain access to an organization's network and traffic or launch a man-in-the-middle attack. In early 2023, a group of threat actors attempted to exploit unpatched devices from several manufacturers to access a telecom provider's network.

What are the key components of cybersecurity compliance in telecom? 

  • Network Security: Network security involves protecting the telecommunications company's networks, systems, and data from cyber threats. This includes implementing firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and encryption.
  • Access Control: Access control involves controlling who can access sensitive information and systems within the telecommunications company. This includes implementing authentication and authorization processes, as well as regular security audits.
  • Incident Response: Incident response involves having a plan in place to respond to cyber incidents, such as data breaches or system outages. This includes having a designated team, regular drills, and an established communication plan.
  • Data Privacy: Data privacy involves protecting customer information and ensuring that it is only used for the purposes for which it was collected. This includes implementing privacy policies, regular security audits, and training employees on data privacy best practices.

Final thoughts

Cybersecurity compliance is essential for telecommunications companies to protect their customers, maintain trust, comply with regulations, and prevent cyber attacks. By implementing network security, access control, incident response, and data privacy practices, telecommunications companies can help ensure that they are well-protected against cyber threats.

This also calls for MSPs to provide specialized cybersecurity services to the telecom industries. At 6clicks, our unique Hub & Spoke architecture makes it possible for MSPs to provide cybersecurity and manage compliance for multiple organizations, helping them strengthen ISMS. It helps to streamline and automate compliance through its multi-tenant structure.

Take a tour of the 6clicks platform and see how MSPs can use the platform, white label it, and improve profit margins and customer experience.

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