MOBILE OPERATOR LOSSES FROM FRAUD AND SECURITY BREACHES TO REACH $41 BILLION IN 2024: KALEIDO INTELLIGENCE
IOT, 5G AND TELCO SERVICES INNOVATION TO DRAMATICALLY INCREASE ATTACK SURFACE
5th May 2021, London, UK: Mobile operators across the globe are set to witness revenue losses of $41 billion due to security breaches and fraud, according to roaming and connectivity research specialists Kaleido Intelligence.
While COVID-19 has shifted the landscape somewhat, due to far lower than normal levels of roaming, a return to travel demand in addition to migration towards 5G will signal challenging times ahead for operators.
According to Kaleido’s new report, Mobile Network Fraud and Security Outlook 2021, mobile operators are facing an unprecedented level of complexity in their networks. This is due to the need to support multiple insecure, legacy signalling protocols in addition to a rapidly increasing connection base and architectural convergence between mobile and IT networks.
COVID-19 Shifts the Landscape
Alongside other factors, security at the interconnect has meant that roaming fraud has accounted for a large proportion of revenue loss for operators. Naturally, the effects of COVID-19 have altered this trend, with losses due to attacks such as International Revenue Share Fraud and other voice fraud having fallen by 11% in 2020, according to Kaleido. With travel restrictions around the world likely to continue well into 2021, this type of fraud is set to decline further this year.
To counter this reduced opportunity, cybercriminals have shifted their tactics to target consumers directly: Kaleido found that social engineering attacks designed to dupe consumers into revealing sensitive personal information or clicking malicious links were a key factor in driving fraud during 2020. The net result of this is that overall security and fraud losses directly attributable to operators fell by 8% in 2020.
Operators to See Significant Security Challenges
The research found that mobile networks are reaching unprecedented levels of complexity, which will only increase as IoT connections balloon and migration to 5G is completed. Inherently weak signalling protocols such as SS7 and GTP are set to remain in use for several years: these weaknesses are often exploited to carry out attacks over other signalling protocols and requires a holistic view of signalling and security events by the operator.
Kaleido found that most operators neither have this holistic capability, nor are their fraud and security systems capable of managing future challenges that will be imposed on their networks into the near-term.
Steffen Sorrell, Research Lead at Kaleido, noted: “Holistic security oversight in addition to automation is fundamental to addressing the security challenges that IoT, 5G, network slicing and edge computing present. It is inevitable that cybercriminals view this trend as an opportunity; operators are undoubtedly aware of this, but are hamstrung by constrained budgets and a need to achieve ROI on their 5G investment.”
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Regulation a Critical Factor in the 5G Era
While 5G is expected to accommodate the ‘Internet of Everything’ along with all of the security challenges that come with such a diverse and complex architecture, regulators across the globe are acutely aware of the importance of 5G security. For example, countries across the EU and NATO in addition to Latin America have already come to an agreement that 5G requires increased regulatory oversight in terms of operators’ security implementation and are likely to follow the UK’s lead in terms of allowing regulators security monitoring and audit powers. This, coupled with the threat of monetary penalties for lack of compliance, may finally provide operators with a clear-cut commercial incentive to invest in best-practices security.
About Kaleido Intelligence
Kaleido Intelligence is a specialist consulting and market research firm with a proven track record delivering telecom research at the highest level. Kaleido Intelligence is the only research company addressing mobile roaming in its entirety, covering:
- Data Forecasts by Market
- Historical & Forecast Viewpoints
- Competitive Intelligence
- Strategic Insight
- Trend Analysis
Research is led by expert analysts, each with significant experience delivering telco research and insights that matter.