Big Data, Big Risks: Addressing the High-Tech & Telecoms Threat Landscape

The benefits of industry 4.0 have been well reported and the world of work has been revolutionized. Almost every organization operating today actively utilizes, or relies on, technologies that are becoming increasingly advanced. Both industry and society have adopted a data-driven culture in which information drives intelligent decision making and previously unheard-of efficiencies.

High-tech and telecoms organizations stand at the forefront of this transformation in a unique yet vulnerable position. In simple terms, technological development is outpacing the ability of many organizations to adequately address the subsequent risks it creates.

A gap has developed between the adoption of sophisticated technologies and protection against advanced threats. It is, therefore, important for organizations to assess the threat landscape to develop effective strategies and systems to minimize risk.

Below are six focus areas that represent significant threats to the high-tech and telecoms sectors.

Privacy and Data Protection

The high-tech and telecoms sectors are data-rich. Processing and storing extremely high volumes of personal information directly correlates to optimum service delivery and revenue generation.

As the regulatory landscape changes, the methods organizations use and how they protect customer data is being scrutinized. As various countries implement new and inherently different privacy regulations, regulatory compliance is now dependent on an ability to satisfy extensive and varied requirements. Failing to do so can have severe financial and reputational consequences.

Device Threats

In general, the risk appetite of high-tech and telecoms organizations and the people they employ is high. Internally, the collaborative and creative environments often cited when referring to high-tech and telecoms organizations pose a significant risk. For example, the latest mobile devices, apps and technologies celebrated by early-adopting employees are far more likely to have security flaws.

Vulnerable devices connected to the network by employees can introduce any number of malicious threats capable of causing limitless damage.

Cloud Security

Regardless of sector, cloud technology is increasingly relied upon for multiple business operations and is normally managed by external cloud service providers. Organizations have less control of these operations, and adequate threat response relies on effective contractual and service-level agreements, which dictate requirements and expectations.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The wide-ranging adoption of IoT devices by both consumers and enterprise, as well as the exceptional volume of devices being produced, represents an increasingly high-impact threat. Many IoT-related threats are the result of poorly configured devices developed by manufacturers who, in some cases, may have had little regard for security. Unsecured devices connected to the networks of high-tech and telecoms organizations can make them vulnerable to attack.

The Human Element

When addressing information security, there is often a tendency to be drawn to technological threats and regulatory failures. As with many other sectors, high-tech and telecoms organizations must recognize human threats, which take many forms. Insider threat, social engineering and process failure all signify significant risks with multiple well-publicized incidents in the last year alone.

Supply Chain

High-tech and telecoms organizations have global supply chains that are extensive and complex. These supply chains inherit the vulnerabilities of their suppliers and are often exploited by attackers to get to their intended target. This threat places a focus on the enforcement of processes and controls designed to minimize the risks associated with third-party suppliers. In the high-risk, high-tech and telecoms environment, organizations must understand who they are doing business with and what needs to be done to minimize the risks they may pose.

For organizations operating in the high-tech and telecoms sectors, an effective information security management strategy and system that evolves with the threat landscape has never been more important.

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