Mobile operators are urged to be more vigilant against cyber-attacks.
Dmitry Kurbatov, co-founder and CTO of SecurityGen, a global provider of security solutions and services for the telecommunications industry,
said the latest security breach at US carrier T-Mobile once again highlights network security as an operational and commercial priority for operators around the world.
T-Mobile revealed last week that it suffered a security breach in early January that compromised 37 million accounts. customer data. The hacker used an unsecured application programming interface (API) to break into T-Mobile’s network and obtain a large amount of customer data, including addresses, phone numbers and birth dates. In a statement, the operator said its systems and policies prevent access to the most sensitive customer information, including financial data.
The T-Mobile breach is a timely reminder to mobile operators that they need to implement robust, comprehensive cybersecurity measures that monitor and protect every aspect of their networks and protect their customers as well,” says Kurbatov.
“When it comes to securing APIs, there are basic steps to take,” he says.
“These include ensuring that all API calls are properly authenticated and authorized: validating all input received by the API to ensure that it is in the correct format and free of malicious code: limiting the amount of data exposed per API: also regularly inspecting the API, for vulnerabilities and security flaws.
Kurbatov went on to explain why hackers target mobile operators.
“Operators generate large revenues, serve millions of customers, store and carry enormous amounts of data. It is these factors that make them highly valuable targets for hackers and cybercriminals,” he says.
Last week’s news follows a similar incident in 2021. in August, when the hacker reached 7.8 million T-Mobile customers and more than 70 million data of former and future customers. After the breach, the FCC awarded the carrier $350 million. USD fine and also agreed to spend 150 million. USD to increase your cyber security. T-Mobile was also the target of high-profile cyber attacks in 2020, 2019 and 2018.
“Even in cases like this, where no highly sensitive data is compromised, history shows that the loss of personal information in a cyber attack erodes customer trust in their carrier.” Data theft costs operators dearly – both in terms of damage to their brand and in terms of the legal fees they have to pay,” says M. Kurbatov.
“Telecommunications security is an ongoing process that requires constant vigilance. Operator security teams must continually update their processes and policies to address existing risks and threats, as well as prepare for new ones arising from the growth of 5G and third-party ecosystems that co-develop 5G products and services,” he says.
“As 5G networks provide a wider range of services and connect more devices, they offer an expanded attack surface that hackers can exploit.
Earlier this month, SecurityGen shared the key cybersecurity challenges for mobile operators in the coming years, including 5G’s vulnerability to attack.
“The open architecture of 5G allows for easy integration with other systems and technologies, but it also makes 5G vulnerable and exposed to new threats and hidden vulnerabilities,” explains Kurbatov.
“Operators also need to be wary of roaming traffic from non-standby 5G and legacy networks.” Although these threats originate from non-5G networks, they can still harm and disrupt 5G services.
Other key threats to operators identified by SecurityGen include cyberattacks by hostile states and organized crime groups, as well as advanced ransomware attacks. SecurityGen is also calling for greater industry collaboration to promote knowledge sharing and address the current cybersecurity skills shortage.