Telecom operators face a variety of security-related vulnerabilities stemming from the overall complexity of their infrastructure, supply chain problems, network misconfigurations, and privacy concerns. To prevent expensive downtime, interrupted service, and stolen data, carriers should identify and address potential network infrastructure vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.
Malicious attackers targeting the telecom industry use a variety of tactics and focus points to circumvent security measures and compromise communications data.
Hackers targeting the financial services sector frequently target telecom carriers’ Signaling System No. 7 (SS7) and Diameter protocols. As part of this strategy, malicious attackers intercept two-factor authentication (2FA) codes to gain access to user accounts.
To combat this threat, telecom operators should put security measures to monitor interconnect and outgoing traffic, as well as the network infrastructure itself. Carriers should also conduct regular network penetration tests and install anomaly detection systems to better identify potential threats.
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), usually used with voice-over-IP (VoIP) and instant messaging communications, is another prime target for telecom hackers. During the pandemic, carriers provided enterprise customers with more SIP endpoints to support remote work, which exposed parts of their network to the public network and added vulnerabilities.
Threats associated with SIP include identity theft, malware and viruses, fraud, hijacking, and eavesdropping. To prevent these potential outcomes, telecom operators should focus on real-time signaling level analysis, combined with advanced machine learning technology to take a proactive approach to SIP hackers, rather than a reactive one, which is often too late to prevent fraud.
In Q1 2021, the telecom sector was the most targeted industry for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. This malicious strategy involves flooding the traffic of a targeted server or network with enough bots to cause complete service shutdown or other technical issues. DDoS attacks are often used to weaken existing security measures, such as firewalls, or to distract from other attacks. The most severe DDoS attacks can cause weeks of downtime, which cause carriers to take a pretty heavy blow to their profitability and overall brand perception.
To mitigate the risk of a DDoS threat, telecom operators can implement web application firewall technology or content distribution networks to filter out unauthorized traffic. Another common solution is to reroute DDoS-generated traffic through a dedicated “scrubbing center,” which removes malicious traffic and allows normal traffic to flow forward.
Read More: Addressing Top Network Challenges of the Telecom Industry
The transformational nature of 5G brings exciting new capabilities for carriers, but it also opens the door to new security vulnerabilities. The next generation of wireless technology supports more interconnected devices than ever before, increasing the total surface area for malicious threats to the telecom industry.
A 2021 Department of Defense guide, “Potential Threat Vectors to 5G Infrastructure” provides operators with information on the most pressing threats when rolling out or providing 5G services, and what can be done to address them.
Carriers should consider possible vulnerabilities within their 5G systems architecture, including:
To mitigate risks stemming from 5G, carriers should consider:
Read More: How to Prepare for 5G
Carriers looking to improve their network infrastructure security can also leverage services from an experienced network provider, in the form of managed network solutions and proactive monitoring. Edison Carrier Solutions specializes in providing telecom carriers with high-performance,
Learn more strategies carriers can use to secure their infrastructure as they add 5G services by reading the “Telecom Carrier Strategies For Successful 5G Rollout” guide.
If you need hands-on network support or want to get an evaluation of your telecom infrastructure, reach out to the Edison Carrier Solutions team today.
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