Why Telecoms Struggle with SaaS Security

The telecommunications industry has always been a tempting target for cybercriminals. The combination of interconnected networks, customer data, and sensitive information allows cybercriminals to inflict maximum damage with minimum effort.

It is breaches at telcos that tend to have a seismic impact and far-reaching implications — in addition to reputational damage, which can be hard to quantify, telcos often receive government fines for their cybersecurity and privacy failings.

There are few industries in the world that collect as much sensitive data as telecommunications companies. In recent years, telcos have accelerated their digital transformation, phased out legacy systems and reduced costs. This change, coupled with the need for stronger collaboration with third-party vendors, has led them to SaaS applications to handle their CRM.

Today, telecoms use SaaS applications for billing, HR, call management, field operations management, tracking call center effectiveness, and hundreds of other applications. While these apps facilitate communication and help improve processes, the large size of these enterprises requires extra security precautions, especially in the areas of collaboration and identity management.

Learn how to secure all your business critical applications.

Purpose & Pitfalls of Using a Telecom SaaS Application

Demographics, behavior, purchase history, family data, mobile preferences and browsing history are just a few of the data points collected in Global Telecommunications.

This data is analyzed, packaged and shared with mobile advertisers. Advertisers are given access to telecom SaaS applications, where they can mine data and develop powerful marketing and advertising campaigns.

However, partnerships between telecommunications and their vendors require application setups configured in such a way as to allow external access while preventing unwanted visitors from viewing, copying and downloading data.

When configurations diverge, they can expose personal data to a much larger audience and put telecommunications at risk of breach.

The telecommunications partnership extends to other telecommunications. Roaming charges have to be shared between GSM providers for billing purposes, while MVNOs build their entire business model on telecommunication networks. This data is captured and stored within the SaaS application, and may be vulnerable when shared between carriers.

Controlling Access in Telecom SaaS

Telecommunications companies are among them biggest employer Inside the world. With a turnover rate of about 18%, a telco with 200,000 employees can expect 36,000 employees to leave the company each year, or about 140 per working day.

Much of the employee deprovisioning process is automated. HR removes the employee from the company directory, which triggers a process that kills email, network access, SSO access, and other identity-based access points.

Some SaaS applications link to enterprise directories, but many don’t. They require additional effort to deprovision. An admin on a SaaS application, for example, might have multiple logins to SaaS – one via SSO and another with a username and password to allow access in the event of an SSO outage. While SSO access can be revoked automatically, often in SaaS applications, the secondary access remains active.

Former employees, especially those laid off from their jobs, need to be revoked immediately to prevent possible data leaks, burglaries and other cyberattacks.

Detecting Telecommunications SaaS Threats

A strong SaaS posture is a must have for any company. However, communication service providers are tempting targets for threat actors and need to take their threat detection capabilities to the next level.

SaaS threat detection involves reviewing data from across the SaaS stack to identify indications of compromise (IOC). These signs of malware, data breaches, and other suspicious events in the SaaS ecosystem can point security teams to any compromised account, and allow them to mitigate the threat.

Protect Telecom SaaS

SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM) is the first line of defense for SaaS. Telecom operators can use the tool to manage their sensitive configurations. Round-the-clock monitoring of all settings alerts the security team in case of any deviations, and a fix guide will show app owners how to secure their data.

SSPM is also used to monitor users. It can search a user’s scroll across the entire SaaS stack to find former employees who need to be revoked, and guide users on the best way to remove access. Meanwhile, SSPM’s threat detection capabilities can alert security teams when they encounter imminent threats.

With an effective SSPM, telco operations can use their SaaS applications with confidence, knowing that their data is safe.

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