Cybersecurity challenges to telecommunications

As the breadth, depth, and complexity of cybersecurity threats increase exponentially, communication networks need to be resilient.
Cybersecurity challenges
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As the breadth, depth, and complexity of cybersecurity threats increase exponentially, communication networks need to be resilient. Among the challenges that telecommunication systems need to face daily are the sheer volume of data transmissions, legacy technology that might not have the most robust cybersecurity protocols, the increased prevalence of cloud technology to enable remote work and old-fashioned DNS and DDoS attacks. Let’s examine them more closely.


1. DNS Attacks

A Domain Name Security (DNS) attack is one where the attacker exploits vulnerabilities in the Domain Name System. The DNS system is a vital part of the internet infrastructure. It has many security holes, making this a grave issue in cybersecurity. Worryingly enough, attacks are also quite prevalent in the telecom industry and have become increasingly complex and prevalent over time.  


Taking proactive cybersecurity measures to ensure high resilience is mandatory to prevent DNS attacks and firm up an organization’s overall security posture. Using VPNs for data encryption and security is one way to safeguard against these attacks. At the same time, organizations can boost their firewalls and use real-time analytics to monitor DNS threats and suspicious activities.


2. DDoS Attacks

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is a type of attack where normal traffic is disrupted and causes a denial of service for the target. Interruption in communication service can cause an organization a great deal of financial loss. In 2018, it is estimated that 65% of DDoS attacks targeted communication providers alone.


A safeguard against this type of attack is the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs use military-grade encryption protocols to cloak online data and make it untraceable and unhackable.


Another way to protect your organization from DDoS attacks is to implement real-time DDoS monitoring for early detection and set up an Access control list (ACL) and black hole scrubbing. In black hole scrubbing, traffic is redirected to a different physical interface – a scrubbing center – that can decipher the good traffic from the malicious one.


3. IoT Security

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to physical objects (or groups of such objects), that are embedded with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies, and that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks.


It is no wonder that IoT network security is one of the greatest challenges for telecommunication and internet services providers (ISPs). By 2021, Gartner estimates that as many as 25 billion devices will be connected to the internet, and cybercriminals will be eager to penetrate such a vast network through hacking and data breaches, to name a few. Among common examples of IoT cybersecurity threats are:

  • RFID Interference. RFID is dependent on the wireless transmission of signals between readers and tags, so interference can prevent the system from working effectively. Firstly, one system can block the signal from another, thus preventing correct data from being transmitted and/or received; and secondly, the signal from one system can be picked up by the other and interpreted incorrectly as valid data.


  • Routing attacks. These are attacks aimed at routers that take advantage of vulnerabilities in protocols, inconsistencies in router software and weak authentication. DDoS and brute force attacks are common examples. Attacks impact network services and business operations as they occur.


  • Sybil Attacks. This form of attack is one where the attacker overturns the reputation system of a network service by creating a many fake identities and uses them to gain a disproportionately large influence. It takes its name from the subject of the book Sybil, a case study of a woman diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder.


Network Congestion. In data networking and queuing theory, this is the reduced quality of service that happens when a network node or link is overloaded with more data than it can handle. Queuing delays, packet loss or the blocking of new connections are common effects.


Virtual private networks and Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC) based mechanisms enable network operators to secure the identification of IoT devices on the network. VPN takes care of encrypting data to ensure its resilience and privacy.  


4. SIP Hacking

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) hacking is the most prevalent type of cybersecurity threat in Voice-over-IP (VoIP) communications. In the absence of preventive security measures, hackers can easily infiltrate VoIP calls and distribute malware or tamper with the service.


Using a VPN with strict encryption protocols will protect your data transmissions and is the easiest way to safeguard VoIPs against SIP attacks. VPN enables you to get a dedicated IP address for your organization to secure all network devices.



Safeguarding your organization’s communication network is not a one-time endeavor of ‘set it and forget it’. With cybersecurity threats becoming increasingly sophisticated and prevalent over time, you need to step up proactive measures to firm up the cyber security posture of your company and veer away from reactive ones. Online privacy security tools like VPN will protect your systems that are increasingly reliant on 5G and IoT inter connectivity against cyber attacks.

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