June 15, 2021

Cybersecurity challenges faced by CSPs in the 5G world

Since remote working became the new norm, Internet connectivity has not only become an indispensable part of our lives, but also one of the primary sources of cyber insecurity. Given the heavy use and reliance of online services, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) have borne the brunt of cyberattacks compared to all other sectors, amidst the global pandemic. According to Nexusguard’s Annual Threat Report 2020, 301 ASN-level CSPs around the world were brought to their knees by stealthy and sophisticated bit-and-piece attacks.

Although some CSPs have tried to keep pace with the growing cybersecurity challenges, the spiraling growth in backbone infrastructures and connected IoT devices, giving rise to even more sophisticated and complex DDoS attacks, have hampered their efforts, especially since they tend not to invest heavily on security applications related services.

CSPs suffer more attacks compared to other sectors
Since 2008, Nexusguard has been on the frontlines of defending against attacks for numerous CSPs around the world. A CSP’s core infrastructure is the heart of its business. Its huge customer base combined with the corresponding volume of data their customers transmit make them enticing targets for cyber criminals.

Being able to target and take down one part or all of a CSP’s core infrastructure availability, most commonly achieved through DDoS attacks, would mean crippling the network. This will ultimately affect all end users dependent on the CSP for day-to-day operations. Therefore, the need for specialist support in protecting customers is very real in a 5G world where ensuring maximum speed and uninterrupted connections is vital. More than just ensuring enhanced connectivity for their clients, CSPs need to stay protected against even the most sophisticated cyberattacks to safeguard against breaches in data privacy. It is therefore imperative that CSPs improve their security posture, as the consequences of a mishandled attack could be detrimental.

Cybersecurity gaps faced by CSPs
As 5G rollouts continue, the threat of terabit attacks becomes real and imminent. 5G devices are now able to transmit over 10 Gbps so hackers would only need to target, say, 100 devices, to generate a terabit attack. Though this has not happened yet, it is likely to happen sooner than expected. Despite the early warning signs, most CSPs remain under-prepared and still lack the expertise and knowledge required to handle advanced cybersecurity threats. To tackle these challenges, some options for CSPs to consider are:

Hybrid DDoS mitigation approach: CSPs could adopt a True-Hybrid solution that offers a seamless experience of operating both on-premise and in the cloud at the same time, with the choice and flexibility of fully swinging between either full on-premise or full cloud.

AI-powered mitigation platforms: CSPs should stop relying on signature or threshold-based mitigation solutions and instead invest in platforms powered by intelligent bases such as machines with big data and deep learning capabilities.

Giving cybersecurity the priority it deserves: Cybersecurity should not be overlooked nor viewed as an operational burden or challenge, it should be given more priority.

From a business perspective, the expectations from external and internal stakeholders have also changed:

● Externally – CSP customers now fully expect their data to be secured by default. After all, they are paying for connectivity and the availability of that connectivity should be part of the CSP’s service.
● Internally – Since the DDoS issue is so closely linked to a CSP’s core products, your business and sales team expect the DDoS problem to be already solved and not be a hindrance to their selling of the core services.

Without the capabilities, or knowledge of how to, or who to turn to, to effectively address these issues, customers of these CSPs will continue to suffer outages and compromises, eventually leaving these CSPs. This ultimately results in declining revenue and profitability for these CSPs.

Addressing the gaps and risks
Cybersecurity capabilities are critical in a CSP’s survival and growth and this has never been more evident. It is important to recognise the difference between cybersecurity as an operational capability compared to it being a business and growth enabler. In both cases, when it comes to cybersecurity,specifically pertaining to DDoS attacks, it will be counter-productive to approach the issue single-handedly and to arrive at an outcome that will be far from effective.

Whatever the strategy, CSPs need to realise the total cost of ownership involved to achieve their desired outcome:

● Cost of protecting their infrastructure both locally and in the cloud
● Cost of maintenance of technology
● Cost of ongoing operations and specialist support for internal and external customers
● Cost of go-to-market including service design and productization

From a cost, risk and speed-to-market perspective, CSPs will find that it makes absolute sense to consider a partnership with accomplished managed security providers such as Nexusguard that have made it their mission to address all of the above issues without taking away the CSPs’ ability to continue delivering added value to their customers.

Nexusguard has proven that in as little as 90 days, it is possible for CSPs to transform into a Managed DDoS Protection as-a-Service provider, providing a suite of managed cybersecurity services that their clients can enjoy

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