The Importance of Network Security in Telecommunications: Safeguarding Data and Communication
Updated: 5 days ago
If you were to poll workers in nearly any field, they would probably tell you telecommunication network security is extremely important. Certainly, the percentage would be even higher among those who owned businesses. However, network security in telecommunications continues to be an easily exploitable vulnerability in many businesses. Earlier this year, a story rose to national attention when the data of 74 million telecom users were involved in a ransomware attack conducted by the infamous CL0P criminal enterprise. However, this was only the largest in a slew of telecom attacks. Some of the others included:
January 18, 2023 – Threat actor IntelBroker placed 550,000 Charter Communications customer records on the market. This hacked data contained physical addresses and account numbers. TA then leaked the records for free.
January 19, 2023 – A cybercriminal or group of cyber criminals discovered a vulnerability with T-Mobiles API (Application Programming Interface) and stole the personal identifiable information (PII) of 37 million customers. The motive was to conduct SIM-swapping attacks on Google Fi.
January 27, 2023 – IntelBroker also leaked 7.5 million Verizon records for free. Although, this information was limited to first names and device types.
February 1, 2023 – IntelBroker shared 144,000 records from U.S. Cellular.
March 6, 2023 – AT&T sent a notice to 9 million customers that an unauthorized person breached their Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI).
Telecom attacks don’t only happen to telecom companies. What makes these large attacks noteworthy is that, in many cases, the cybercriminals gained access to data that could assist them in attacking other businesses.
In this article, the Flagler Tech telecom security professionals will discuss the threats that your company faces and how to better secure data that might be accessible through telecommunications.
Understanding the Vulnerabilities
Like most types of data theft, network hackers can take many different avenues of approach. Like most criminals, hackers will frequently take the path of least resistance. Most of these bad actors have a limited skillset and will target the systems with the most glaring vulnerabilities. Some of these attacks are surprisingly simple and don’t require a great deal of technical savvy:
The goal of a Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS attack is simply to increase traffic and prevent real users from logging on. An example of a DDoS attack would be the introduction of a script that repeatedly tries to access the system via the login page.
Session Initiations Protocol (SIP) Hacking
This is more of a broad category of hacking techniques that targets the VoIP SIP. This can come in the form of password cracking, SIP Spoofing (using fake IP addresses, for example), and exploiting weaknesses in the SIP protocol.
When an attacker discovers that data is unencrypted, it’s only a matter of intercepting the signal to gain full access to the communication.
Human beings are still the greatest vulnerability in cybersecurity. In many cases, individuals can be manipulated to provide their login credentials to an unauthorized party or allow them access to their work computer.
Like SIP, SS7 is a set of protocols for routing calls, sending texts, etc. However, they are also prone to similar hacks.
Brute Force Attacks
This involves a computer running different passwords through the system until it lands on the right one. This is common with systems that do not have a limit on the number of login attempts.
The above list is just a sampling of the common vulnerability types that cybersecurity professionals deal with on a daily basis.
Protecting Customer Data
At Flagler Tech, hardening vulnerable systems against attacks is what we do. By improving the security of your system, you can protect one of your most valuable assets: customer data. The following steps can help you improve your telecom security.
Conduct a Risk Assessment – This involves checking your hardware, software, processes, and security protocols.
Segment Your Network – This is the IT interpretation of not keeping all of your eggs in one basket. By segmenting your network, a cybercriminal has to launch multiple successful attacks to get all of your information.
Create Strong Login Protocols – By requiring employees to develop difficult passwords and verifying logins via two-factor authentication (2FA), companies can help prevent brute force attacks and even some common social engineering approaches.
Access Control – Companies can limit the potential damage of a breach by limiting access to only that which is required by the employee.
Physical Security – Unauthorized personnel should not have access to a company’s facilities, equipment, or infrastructure.
Ensuring Secure Communication Channels
Intercepted communications are a common form of data breach. Here are some measures that IT departments can take to prevent these sorts of leaks.
End-to-end Encryption – With encryption, only the sender and receiver can interpret the information. If the transmission is intercepted, it will be unintelligible without the encryption key.
SSL/TLS Certification – This ensures security over websites and online services by establishing a secure HTTPS connection.
VPNs – Virtual Private Networks encrypt data between the client and the server.
Physical Security Checks – Physical security checks can be used to detect hardware or physical taps that can compromise the company’s communications.
User Education – This involves teaching internal users how to detect communication breaches.
Firewall and Intrusion Detection – Software that detects unauthorized access and firewalls to categorize information can all but eliminate damage from a successful breach.
By partnering with an experienced managed security service provider (MSSP) like Flagler Tech, you can be sure that your company has the software, monitoring protocols, and detection tools to not only protect you in the event of a successful attack but deter cybercriminals from targeting your business.
Things Your Business Can Do to Prevent Telecommunication Attacks Today
If you’re concerned about a telecom attacker accessing your data, here are some things you can do to immediately improve your security.
Ensure You’ve Run Software Updates – Software updates often contain security patches for known vulnerabilities, but they only work once they’re installed. Software updates may be inconvenient, but ignoring them can make your systems vulnerable to cyberattacks. Have your IT department send out instructions for running updates on all company hardware in employee hands: cellphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, etc. Request for them to audit all existing systems to ensure that passwords are up to date.
Require Password Resets – Require a password reset that forces employees to use a difficult password. Also, toggle on two-factor authentication for all existing systems.
Schedule Employee Training – Update employees on the latest phishing scams and other popular attacks. Even if your budget doesn’t have room for employee training, your IT department can send out an email.
Hire a Telecom Security Company – Cybersecurity and telecommunication security are specialized areas of information technology. If your company’s IT department is not formally trained in this particular area of expertise, you may be vulnerable.
Flagler Tech is a Managed Service Provider and a Managed Security Service Provider. Our professionals will work with your existing IT department to strengthen the security of your information.
Infrastructure Security Frequently Asked Questions
The following are some of the most commonly asked questions about network security. For specific answers to your questions, contact Flagler Tech today.
What is a Pen Test?
A penetration test or “pen test” is an authorized attempt to access your company’s system in the same way a cybercriminal might. The purpose is to identify and fix security vulnerabilities.
Can an Encrypted Communication Still be Compromised?
Yes, but it limits the options of the cybercriminal. For instance, if the bad actor has the login information for either party, they will be able to see the unencrypted data. However, if they intercept the signal, they would need the encryption key to understand the information.
Contact Flagler Tech for all of your company’s IT and system security needs.