Telecommunications, the exchange of information by electronic means, helps keep the world connected. You can thank modern telecom companies (think AT&T, Verizon, etc.) for that, as they’ve helped form economies and entire business infrastructures. From email and messaging to phone calls and video calls, telecoms have become an intrinsic part of our lives, allowing users to interact no matter where they are, which is important now more than ever.
Because their networks are so extensive, telecoms are a big target for hackers hoping to gain access to their business and wide customer base. Therefore, it’s important both businesses and consumers become aware of the potential threats to telecoms. Let’s take a look.
The Challenges Faced by Telecoms
While advancements in technology help improve many facets of our everyday lives, they’ve consequentially created challenges for telecoms when it comes to their security. Take the internet of things, for example. From virtual assistants to smartphones, IoT devices help us complete tasks more efficiently and live our lives to the fullest while on-the-go. But as users become more reliant on IoT devices, these gadgets become an equally enticing target for hackers to exploit. Whether it’s gathering personal data from smart devices connected to users’ home networks or accessing corporate data from a remote employee’s laptop, security around IoT is a huge focus for telecoms companies.
AI has also created a huge shift in how businesses operate, and the telecoms industry is no exception. While many telecoms are using AI to improve their security defenses, criminals are also using AI as a means to breach corporate networks – essentially fighting fire with fire.
The Security Risks Impacting Telecoms
Businesses, consumers, government agencies, and even whole countries rely on telecoms companies, so a security attack on one could have serious ramifications. Telecoms companies are finding themselves under fire for two specific types of attacks – one that aims to gain access to their organization, network operations, and data, and another that indirectly targets the company’s subscribers. But what exactly do the repercussions of these attacks entail?
While the prior could lead to a loss of valuable company information and impacted reputation, the latter could lead to a variety of damages. Say a hacker was somehow able to bypass a telecoms company’s security system through an advanced attack and gain access to its customer database – they could then be able to indirectly exploit customers’ mobile devices. Since many users often autosave private information like online account credentials and credit card information for mobile shopping, a hacker could consequentially use this information to conduct credit card fraud or identity theft.
Adding to that, some malware strains have been tailored to attack telecoms. According to ZDNet, Trickbot malware has been updated with a module that uses brute force attacks against a handful of specific targets – one of them being telecoms. The malware pre-selects targets based on IP addresses, indicating that the attackers are going after them specifically. Once Trickbot gains access, the criminals behind the attack can move around the network to steal credentials, sensitive information, and more.
How Telecom Security Can Be Improved
As the gatekeepers for vast amounts of information traveling through its networks, telecoms must prioritize the security of their infrastructures by staying up-to-date on the rapidly evolving security landscape. However, the responsibility of security falls on both the service provider and the consumer. So, what can you do to protect yourself from any telecom-related threats? Start by following these tips:
Use a virtual private network (VPN)
Use a VPN, which allows you to send and receive data across a public network as if it were a private network. A VPN encrypts – or scrambles – your information so others can’t read it, helping to safeguard your data.
Monitor your online accounts
Use ID monitoring tools to be aware of changes or actions that you did not make. These may have been caused by malware and could indicate that your phone or account has been compromised.
Update your software
Developers are always actively working to identify and address security issues. Frequently update your device’s operating systems and apps so that they have the latest fixes and security protections.
Defend your devices with security software
Comprehensive security software across all devices continues to be a strong defensive measure to protect your data and privacy from online threats.
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