Securing customer trust is one of the most vital things a Communications Service Provider (CSP) can do to not only win business, but keep it. As new services are launched from new technological innovation, such as 5G, customers that have trust in a provider will look to them to update their network infrastructure. This holds true for both consumers and enterprises, the latter of which put trust at a premium because their business data and reputations are on the line. Securing information as part of a service is more critical than ever.
Implementing end-to-end security operations for devices, access sites, cloud, and network core is the best way to build trust, but this can’t be done without with a combination of three key factors. Enter the “triangle of trust,” a visual union of insight, scalability and adaptiveness that CSPs can reference when securing 5G operations for customers.
Providers need to consistently improve their security posture, especially as cyber threats and hacks become increasingly sophisticated and complex. Creating a method for implementing security software features that measure and account for internal and external threats is vital. Information obtained from these practices can then be used to present current security metrics and potential risks to board members and C-level executives. This helps the customer determine the likely impact of cyber threats on their business goals and the costs that could be incurred if a breach of data or proprietary company assets occurred.
With the right architecture in place, CSPs can make a valuable security assessment for customers and use this to build ongoing trust. Insights garnered should be able to provide clarification into the security of the business environment, service offerings, overall network architecture, existing security controls, IT skills valuation to handle cybersecurity technologies, and legal and regulatory compliance requirements.
The compilation of this information can then be used as a framework for designing a 5G “security control playbook” that covers different operational scenarios, such as how to securely launch a new 5G service that gives enterprises the ability to ensure user privacy and data confidentiality through direct control of the network slice that is used to connect industrial Internet of Things (IoT) assets.
From evidence-based insights into security positioning, CSPs can shoot for scale. By building scalable security capabilities into the network to protect its data, customers of all sizes, across any industry vertical will benefit from the increased protection.
Cybersecurity threats can appear from a multitude of places suddenly – hence why they seek to “attack” the network. Scaling network security needs to be done just as forcefully. It is not a slow, manual processes. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is required, as the technology can scan incoming and ongoing network traffic at volumes impossible for humans. In addition, CSPs can implement cognitive analytics to aggregate and correlate security data from many different sources. The combination of AI and analytics is key to alerting security teams to vulnerabilities and threats. This is because they can be utilized, in part, to compare network traffic packets with historical patterns and spot anomalies instantly.
However, when in-house IT skills, resources or security capabilities are not able to scale to address the full spectrum of cyber threats, CSPs can invest in a managed service from a third party expert. Managed service agreements can include management of the security operations already set in place, in addition to 24/7 threat prevention, detection, response and recovery. Experts can also help reduce risks associated with strict regulatory and compliance requirements in data privacy as penalties can negatively impact provider reputation and put a financial burden on customers.
If third party offerings are unappealing due to use of another vendor’s brand, some managed services for security come as “white label” offerings, enabling CSPs to sell security services to their enterprise customers under their own brand. This method of tacking scalable security ensures end-to-end protection for the network, applications and data, across fixed and mobile technologies, for any number of 5G slices that are tailored to the unique needs of each customer – fostering credibility and trust.
Although scalability is important, it is not enough to build complete trust from customers. The last thing CSPs need to do is to be adaptive. Network security and the threats that it encounters are rapidly evolving. To ward off threats, providers need to act quickly and adapt their security strategies based on each designated attack. Just like scalability sees limitations from manual operations alone, adaptiveness is no different. Here, customer security will suffer from security operations teams that try to manually provide end-to-end security across multiple 5G slices or the vast array of machines and endpoints that connect to and exchange data with the 5G network. In today’s world, IT teams are dealing with complex and extreme amounts of data. To overcome this challenge, providers can integrate and automate network security management functions, including encryption, two-factor authentication, audit compliance, privileged access management, threat intelligence, certificate management and network-based malware detection.
5G network security is even more challenging; these networks cross many discrete infrastructure domains and contain numerous physical and virtual network functions. The architecture complexity of distributed RAN, cloud RAN, edge core, and cloud core can increase the time and effort needed to provision satisfactory services.
More modern, software-based security operations can handle a vastly greater level of complexity with automated workflows that constantly measure risk levels, control access to key operational systems and assets, detect threats earlier in the mitigation chain and orchestrate the best response to legitimate incidents. With adaptive software, CSPs can respond and resolve security issues at an accelerated rate. A big difference when compared to security operations that are conducted manually. Customer trust can be built when the burden of timely, manual, repetitive tasks are replaced with more productive and efficient threat-hunting.
The Value of Trust
When customer trust can be established, there is no limit to the revenue opportunities that can be generated from 5G services. As 5G becomes a more dominant networking function for enterprises in the future, CSPs have a duty to ensure that these networks remain reliable and secure. Creating a security plan cannot be an afterthought – it should be put in place right from the start of the business relationship, when new services are being discussed. Otherwise, customer trust won’t be there. By referencing the triangle of trust, providers can work with their customers on comprehensive security operations that include insights, scalability and adaptiveness in order to equip their networks to ward off threats today and in the future.