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Skills and security concerns in the telecoms sector

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Skills and security concerns in the telecoms sector

"A very common form of telecoms fraud is ‘dial through fraud’, which is when attackers hack into a telephone system to obtain free calls."

Telecommunications companies are huge organisations that revolve around technology, providing services including cable, phone and internet access. However, due to the amount of sensitive data and large customer bases these companies possess, they are key targets for cyber criminals.

SMEs (small to medium enterprises) have been the main victims of cyberattacks, but attackers are moving onto larger corporations like telecoms companies simply because they can.

Back in May 2017, Spanish telecoms company Telefonica was one of the many victims of a mass attack which affected at least 150 countries with ransomware demanding payment of the digital currency bitcoin. Although the attack was deemed to not be majorly effective, organisations were put on alert because attackers tend to make multiple attempts. Even ineffective attacks or false claims can damage a company’s reputation.

Another problem companies face is telecoms fraud, which is four times bigger than credit card fraud. It is estimated that telecoms fraud costs UK businesses more than £1.5 billion a year and up to 84% of UK businesses are vulnerable to being hacked.

A very common form of telecoms fraud is ‘dial through fraud’, which is when attackers hack into a telephone system to obtain free calls. They do this by exploiting weak passwords and once they’re in the system, they tend to call overseas premium lines that they have set up themselves or sell the ability for international calls.

The need for talent to combat telecoms security threats

To add to these problems to the telecommunications industry, the solution to mitigate these attacks is also under threat. There is a shortage of cybersecurity professionals globally and positions in Europe go unfilled for years. According to the ISACA Cybersecurity Nexus survey, filling positions can take up to six months and 37% of the respondent organisations said that only one in four applicants for cybersecurity jobs have the qualifications relevant for the role.

One way to close the skills gap and shortage of cybersecurity professionals is to target students and young people, and to show them that this career path is a rewarding one. The quality of technology-related courses in educational institutions therefore needs to be maintained. In addition to this, the programmes should be incentivised with bursaries, grants and internships in order to make sure students study accessible and relevant courses.

Telecoms security tips

In order to protect yourself from telecoms attacks, there are a few guidelines you could follow:

  • Change passwords regularly and avoid using simple extensions such as 0000 or 1234
  • Placing limits on who can make international and premium line calls
  • Block out-of-hours calls
  • Check for patterns in extensions used in calls
  • Set up a daily or weekly limit on call spending

Finally, it’s worth getting to know how your security system works. If you’re unsure then ask your telecoms provider. If you’re at all concerned with your telecommunications systems and how secure it is, get in touch with us at SA1 Telecoms. We can provide professional advice and support to ensure your business is kept safe.

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