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Delivering a Collaborative Cybersecurity Services Model for Telcos and Systems Integrators

Hila Meller, BT Vice President Security, Americas, EMEA and APAC

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Cybersecurity
Hila Meller

With the new year well underway, it has quickly become apparent that the intensification of the cyberthreat landscape that the pandemic brought has only continued.

With many employees continuing working remotely, dispersed workforces continue to stretch company’s networks and security perimeters far beyond their four walls and traditional approaches to security.

It is valuable therefore for organisations to remember why the evolving cyberthreat landscape continues to remain a challenge. We know from our recently updated CISOs under the spotlight research that there is still too little attention given to foundational cybersecurity hygiene measures and that workers knowingly take risks online even though they understand the dangers.

On the positive side, we also know that there’s little resistance to greater security measures, as long as they don’t get in the way, and that training is an essential part of supercharging the human firewall.

However, the massive growth of security threats, from email scams, ransomware and malicious botnets to brute force attacks, continues to haunt telcos, systems integrators and organisations alike. Furthermore, the need to firm up cybersecurity measures and protect against advanced persistent threats remains urgent.

Telcos and systems integrators are under considerable pressure from security threats ranging from email scams, ransomware, and malicious botnets to brute force attacks.

At the same time, as their customers rely on them to provide innovative cybersecurity approaches to enable them to futureproof their digital infrastructure across the globe.

This is exacerbated by the fact that the pandemic catapulted digital transformation forward by several years, according to McKinsey. Digitalisation has moved from being a serious consideration to being a basic requirement for doing business.

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The move to the cloud is now an essential part of seamlessly enabling employees to work remotely, and thus a critical part of business continuity in these uncertain times, but this 24/7 connectivity needs to be secure.

Add to this the shortage of cybersecurity skills and the sheer scope of the threat landscape, its clear that in-house expertise is being challenged as never before. Furthermore, there is an unavoidable and often complex regulatory environment that needs to be taken into account.

In response to these daunting demands, many telecom resellers and systems integrators are looking to a collaborative cybersecurity services model to help them.

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Delivering a collaborative cybersecurity services model is not a simple endeavour, but it is an attainable one. It includes considering current investments, the need for flexibility, trust, and risk management.

When it comes to existing investments, unsurprisingly, customers want to get the most out of their current assets. Those who’ve invested in Security Operation Centres (SOCs) understandably will want to utilise them.

However, they should consider outsourcing volume activities which don’t need insight to reduce the load on their analysts. Similarly, companies which have invested in firewall management may want to outsource advanced threat detection to get up to speed more quickly in areas such as threat hunting.

The need for flexibility – both operationally and commercially – is another key consideration. Operationally, the current threat landscape means that organisations and their vendors and partners need to be a lot more proactive, particularly when dealing with the fallout from high-end attacks, such as SolarWinds. It is essential that there are clear agreements in place to delineate who’s doing what during calm times, and when crises invariably manifest.

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Managing risk is another key consideration. Some of the strategic technology decisions made during the pandemic, such as engaging new vendors to address a particular need, led to an increase in risk that security teams must now contend with.

The more vendors that are introduced into a service model, the more complex it becomes to consistently apply policies.

The two key levers in terms of managing risk are, firstly, the need for an organisation to regain or maintain a high degree of control and ownership, and secondly, to be able to identify and get the benefit of outside expertise.

While some organisations may have reservations, there are the palpable gains brought by partners that can harness the cutting-edge technology and expertise needed to address today’s sophisticated threats – particularly when coupled with the right co-management model.

An unavoidable truth for all organisations, as well as telecom resellers and systems integrators, is that they need to invest in either in-house security teams, partnerships with managed cybersecurity providers or a combination of both in order to lower their risk in 2022.

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