Cyber Security Threats in Telecommunications

Cyber Security

Telecommunication companies have long been an attractive target for cybercriminals and as technology progresses. As the industry continues to evolve, becoming the first contact point for many customers and home to a rich supply of data, protecting this is becoming increasingly more difficult. So how do you increase your business’ cyber security and protect your customers and business’ data in this ever-changing landscape?

What is at risk?

First, we need to understand the scope of potential data that can be mined, hacked or infiltrated. If you run a business handling any company data, you might need to store:

  • Customers names
  • Customers contact details; including their email addresses, contact numbers or addresses
  • Details of customers purchases and spending habits
  • Customers banking information
  • Sensitive information regarding your customers life depending on your industry
  • Location tracking 
  • Device or system information and capabilities

This is by no means an exhaustive list but provides a preface as to understanding the threats facing the telecommunications industry. Hackers, cybercriminals and nation state actors may use customers’ banking information to steal funds. They may be able to blackmail customers due to sensitive information. They could take control of a device through understanding its cyber security protection, sell customer contact details to unscrupulous third parties for profit or illegally obtain spending habits and patterns to sell to third parties so as to better market products or services.

All of this is before the actual risk to your business as well. If you appear as an attractive target, you may find your website or internal systems held to ransom. Or, because a rival has paid for the privilege of temporarily disrupting your business. Regardless, the implications of being subject to an attack can lead to a lack of customer faith in your ability to safeguard their information or provide services, which can create permanent lasting damage to your brand. Is anyone safe? So, what can cyber criminals do? How do you protect your business against it?

What cybercriminals can do

Well aside from the potential outcomes mentioned above, surveillance is often a reason for skilled hackers to infiltrate companies. Large telecom providers such as Tesco and 02, as well as phone manufacturers such as Huawei or Sony have found themselves the targets of cyber crime. Common areas that hackers may target include:

  • Taking advantage of unsecured networks
  • Employees who are using their own devices for work purposes
  • Data that has been migrated to the cloud
  • Infrastructure weaknesses, especially in IT
  • Insider attacks 
  • Third parties

Common tactics which hackers use include DDoS attacks (distributed denial of service), brute force hacking attempts, bypassing cyber software and installing ransomware. Despite all the doom and gloom, there are ways in which you can protect your business.

How increase cyber security to protect against cyber criminals?

Well to start, there are already protection measures in place but you should not rely exclusively upon them. All of the major mobile networks such as EE and 02, take their connection coverage from British Telecoms (BT). As the provider of the actual infrastructure, they safeguard this with their own, quite secret, cyber security. The major networks also employ their own security. In short, to protect yourself against cyber criminals you need to understand that this is a cat and mouse game. Companies devise ways to protect themselves, hackers look for a way around them. Hackers devise new ways to obtain data or take actions, companies find a new way to defend against it. Here are some ways you can protect your company.

Establish a secure network and provide your employees with secure devices

One of the most common ways hacks can happen is when an employee is using an already compromised device to access something work related on their own. This can also happen by third parties visiting your place of business. Establishing a secure Wi-Fi connection can go some way to preventing potential hacks, as can ensuring that work phones are strictly used for work. If an employee uses their phone to access work material but has already clicked on a phishing link, their device can be used as a ‘back door’. 

Secure Mobile Phone

Strictly adhere to UK laws on GDPR and Data Protection

You can do this by ensuring that all employees have been trained with these laws in mind and the severity of the implications that a data loss or breach can cause. This can range as small as ensuring they ask the correct security questions on the account, not speaking to anyone whom the account holder has not given access to speak on their behalf, ensuring computers are locked and password protected when not at their desks or in use and so much more. Devise a strict policy on the use of devices, company equipment, data protection and if needs be, non-disclosure agreements. You can also train your employees to log anything that looks suspicious to your IT or cybersecurity department.

Invest in up-to-date anti malware and cyber threat software

Firewalls are one of the most common first lines of defence when it comes to protecting against DDoS and brute force attacks. If you install this on every company device, you can go a long way to making your company appear as less of an attractive target. Other cyber security measures you can take is ensuring that you use a secure and reputable website, email and telecom host, and invest in up to date devices with tougher security measures. Third parties can also include your email or web hosts, so don’t be afraid to change providers if you have doubts about their expertise and capabilities to protect your business.

Be adaptable

With nation states such as North Korea now utilising cyber crime to fuel their economy, they are able to use an entire nation’s resources to devise new methods to infiltrate, steal and disrupt businesses worldwide. That is before thinking about whatever new methods individual hackers come up with! Your best chance is to regularly keep up to date in advancements of cybersecurity and crime, and to entrust your business to a company that specialises in these areas.

Are you looking for the most up to date business communications solutions? The One Solution is here to help. Contact us today on 0330 094 5545 or use our contact form here.

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