19 May 2017
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Carriers cannot take on the insurmountable and widespread security challenges alone, given how interconnected and dependent they are on one another.
That was the message coming loud
and clear from this week’s International Telecoms
Week keynote panel, Working together in the pursuit of
Led by Michael Wheeler, EVP of NTT Communication, the
panellists agreed that the industry has its work cut out for it
in defending against the myriad of security and distributed
denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that is gathering
The panellists were Alessandro Talotta, chairman and CEO of
Sparkle; Pierre-Louis de Guillebon, CEO of Orange International
Carriers; Jack Waters, CTO of Zayo; and PCCW Global chief
marketing officer Mike van den Bergh.
Most these attacks haven’t been particularly
sophisticated, Zayo’s Waters pointed out. He said:
"What I find so interesting is that, when you get down to the
technology that’s been used, it’s all
pretty simple stuff. The sophistication of these attacks is
pretty low. It’s mostly been brute force. As an
industry we should really be prepared for the day when things
become very sophisticated."
The panel was unanimous in its opinion that the "bad guys"
have had the edge in the fight against network threats. They
have been more focused and impactful in their attacks than
carriers have been in defending and mitigating against these
Collaboration is key to fortifying networks against attacks.
Waters called for carriers to tackle the basic issues
surrounding security such as authentic routing information and
Sparkle’s Talotta told the audience that a
joint effort in securing and protecting networks will "bring
the most efficiency" to benefit the entire industry.
Van den Bergh of PCCW Global said that the sheer scale of
connectivity among carriers is "both a strength and
vulnerability". He urged carriers in the room to work together
by sharing information and working across industry
"It’s still early days. Questions like how do
we automate this, how do we make sure information is shared
quickly [should be addressed]," said Van den Bergh, who added
that carriers have much to learn from similarly highly
interconnected industries such as aviation and
He also said regulation of protection will be a crucial
driver in tackling threat, but expected any implementation to
be about five years away. "I’m not a big fan of
regulation but the idea of having some amount of protocol
around internet security is a reasonable one," said
As network service providers and engineers of the network,
carriers should have the upper hand in protecting their
networks, the panel noted. "Operators are in the best position
– you have the broadest landscape of the traffic,"
Carriers will need to be prepared for the future by adapting
to threats and providing relevant services. "Do you want to be
in the communications business five years from now? If your
answer is yes, then you have to [make security] part of your
"At best you get really good at it. If you’re
in the business of comms, it’s a growing
capability – it has to be, otherwise you
won’t be in the comms business."
by Agnes Stubbs