Telcos under attack

Telecoms companies are a big target for cyber attacks. We chat to cybersecurity professionals from some of SA’s big players about what they’re doing to keep their networks, and users, safe.

15 September 2022

Kerissa Varma, Vodacom, says defence is all about putting different layered controls in place so that should one fail, there are several others that the hackers will need to get through before they get in.

As the builders, controllers and operators of critical infrastructure widely used to communicate and store sensitive data, telcos are responsible for keeping our connected world, connected, 24/7. As such, these companies are sizeable targets for cyber attacks. According to Deloitte, illicit actors, and nation states, are increasingly attacking telecom operators’ infrastructure and applications to run covert surveillance operations, to shut down critical services that consumers and businesses rely on or to access sensitive data and personal information – be it names, addresses or private financial data – about their customers and suppliers.

This reality demands that cybersecurity teams at telcos do everything they can to stay ahead of attackers and to identify and eliminate threats before they become a problem. For Kerissa Varma, Vodacom’s head of cybersecurity across Africa, when you look at the rise in cyber attacks across all industries, many of the same old suspects are putting businesses at risk, from poor security hygiene and weak passwords to a lack of awareness around social engineering strategies like those used in ransomware and phishing attacks. The knockon effects and the potential disruption to so many other industries makes telecommunications companies a particularly attractive target, especially for attackers who are looking to make a big impact.

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