The telecoms industry has recently been revelling in an exceptional demand for network services, as the digital economy has expanded and consumer needs have diversified. The communications industry facilitates the operations of all businesses, public safety organisations and the government, and the world is abuzz with technology such as high-speed broadband and effective 4G connections.
However, the industry is simultaneously facing significant challenges. As shown in the recent ransomware attack on Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica, the expanding industry is fraught with increasingly frequent cyberattacks that can cripple systems with malicious software, often locking computers and demanding ransoms.
The sophistication and intensity of attacks has undoubtedly initiated a questioning of the stance of data protection and the safeguarding of consumer information.
What is Data Protection?
The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) is a set of laws, regulations and best practice principles directing the collection and use of personal data about individuals, ensuring the fair, lawful, safe and secure use and handling of data.
The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018 aims to further ensure that the digital marketplace is more secure for consumers, making the issue of cyber related risks and data security more pressing for businesses.
Why protect your servers?
A recent report by PWC revealed that telecoms companies are becoming more aware of the threat posed by cyberattacks, with a 70 percent increase in detected security incidents. However, as telecoms companies usually store a large amount of detailed and sensitive customer data, they remain a target to cyber attackers. Indeed, compromise of customer records was cited by 50 percent of respondents, a 29 percent increase over the year before.
What motivates hackers?
The motivation for initiating such attacks are multiple. Spying on devices and customer activities, global fraud campaigns, network crashes and denial of service for thousands of customers – these are all key factors driving attackers.
The diverse business ecosystem of the telecoms industry therefore demands an investment in cybersecurity, focusing on real-time monitoring, threat intelligence tools, highly trained personnel and up-to-date solutions.
What are the potential consequences of an attack?
There are multiple and far-reaching consequences of a cyberattack, from financial loss due to falls in share prices, through to regulatory fines and compensation claims, reputational damage and loss of consumer trust.
In 2016 TalkTalk was hit with a record £400,000 fine as a result of being hacked in October 2015. Security failings meant that the hackers accessed the personal information of more than 150,000 customers, including financial data for more than 15,000 people.
With that in mind, businesses should not rest on their laurels when it comes to cybersecurity. Protecting your telecoms systems to avoid being a victim of an attack should be a priority.