Skip to main content

Fortifying telecom networks against cyber intrusions

Fortifying telecom networks against cyber intrusions

Evolving threats in telecom networks

The rapid evolution of cybersecurity threats poses significant challenges to telecom networks, especially with the advent of 5G and other advanced technologies. Reports indicate that Communications Service Providers (CSPs) struggle to identify network blind spots and prevent attacks. A survey by Nokia and Global Data found that over 30 percent of CSP respondents reported eight or more breaches in the past year.

Sophisticated malware attacks, such as GTPDOOR, can exploit vulnerabilities in mobile carrier networks through the GPRS Roaming Exchange (GRX). These threats covertly communicate through routine network traffic, effectively bypassing traditional defenses like firewalls. As hackers become more adept at evading detection, the need for robust, multilayered defense mechanisms becomes increasingly critical.

GTPDOOR's ability to blend seamlessly into routine network operations makes it a formidable threat. By leveraging the GTP-C protocol, it establishes covert communication channels with attackers' servers, allowing persistent and undetected access. This highlights a broader trend where cyber attackers exploit specific telecom technologies, bypassing traditional security measures and posing unique challenges to telecom operators.

Example stages of malware attacks

Why do telcos need specialized EDR?

Telecom networks can be vulnerable to various attacks, including insider threats, ransomware, Distributed Denial of Service, and sophisticated malware such as GTPDOOR. The constantly evolving threat landscape poses significant challenges for Security Operations teams, making it difficult to detect anomalies, respond in real time, and safeguard critical telecom infrastructure.

Moreover, telco network elements have unique requirements to meet the stringent requirements of core networks, such as high performance, availability, low latency, and easy maintenance. It is essential that EDR agents cause no resource competition with the elements and adapt swiftly to their hardware and software changes. They must also comply with regulatory requirements like NIS2 and TSA and operate based on 3GPP specifications.

Safeguarding network elements demands a telco-tailored approach that eliminates blind spots and detects and responds to threats in real time without compromising the integrity and performance of network functions.

Strengthening threat detection with NDR

To effectively combat evolving network- and endpoint threats, many telecom operators integrate Network Detection and Response (NDR) capabilities with EDR. By consolidating network elements and traffic data, operators achieve more comprehensive visibility across the network layer. What exactly does this correlation enable? It accelerates threat detection with more accurate information on malicious activities, even in potential blind spots created by agentless network functions or sophisticated EDR evasion tactics.

Our newly enhanced NetGuard Endpoint Detection and Response product combines EDR and NDR capabilities in a single view. It provides real-time threat detection with a unified visibility of network functions data and traffic, eliminating network blind spots.

Introduction to NetGuard Endpoint Detection and Response

Achieving comprehensive telco network protection

Advanced telecommunications networks go beyond mere connectivity, serving as the backbone of critical infrastructure and carrying services that demand global resilience against disruptions. The sophisticated threats exemplified by GTPDOOR highlight the need for robust cybersecurity measures. CSPs are recommended to invest in solutions tailored for multi-vendor telco networks to ensure resilience against such evolving threats.

These solutions incorporate intelligent sensors to detect intruders and leverage AI-powered techniques for real-time anomaly detection and automated threat response. A comprehensive approach ensures continuous monitoring, rapid response, and unified threat hunting, enabling CSPs to proactively mitigate threats. By adopting a multi-layered defense strategy, telecom operators can defend against sophisticated, telco-centric adversaries, safeguarding mission-critical network infrastructure and maintaining uninterrupted service for millions of subscribers.

Multi-layered defense by Nokia

Find out more

NetGuard Endpoint Detection Response | Nokia

NetGuard Cybersecurity Dome | Nokia

AI in Security | Nokia

Cybersecurity Regulations | Nokia

Rodrigo Brito

About Rodrigo Brito

Having an extensive background in Telecommunications and Cybersecurity, Rodrigo Brito is recognized for building high-performing teams and products at Nokia. In his current role as Head of Cybersecurity Products, Rodrigo creates breakthrough technology that protects and strengthens the security posture of networks, empowering Communication Service Providers and mission-critical networks to safely accelerate towards 5G and Software-as-a-Service.

Article tags