Telcos depend on AI to thwart hackers

Telcos depend on AI to thwart hackers

2 Min Read

by Ken Wieland

23 July 2019

LONDON -- Of all the industry sectors covered by a recent cybersecurity report from the Capgemini Research Institute, telecom looks the most enthusiastic in embracing AI to fend off malicious attacks. Four out of every five IT security specialists working in this sector, according to survey conducted by Capgemini, said they counted on clever AI algorithms to help identify threats and thwart attacks.

Other sectors covered by the report -- ReinventingCybersecurity with Artificial Intelligence: the new frontier in digitalsecurity -- were automotive,banking, consumer products, insurance, retail and utilities. On average, lessthan 70% of all the 850 senior IT security specialists canvassed --across the seven different sectors -- thought they would not able to respond tocyberattacks without AI. 

One reason why telcos rely so heavily on AI is they have much more to lose than most in the event of a data breach. This focuses minds. When asked about the approximate ?nancial damage to their organisation resulting from a cybersecurity breach, 40% of IT security specialists working in the telecom sector put it at over $50 million. This was a much higher proportion than any other industry sector covered in the report. (Consumer products was the nearest with 26% of respondents saying that financial damage topped $50m.) By having huge amounts of customer data, said Capgemini, telecom firms were an ideal target for cyberattacks

Related: A Telco Executive's Guide to AI

Putting a strain on telcos is exponential increases ontraffic across their networks, which makes it extra difficult for cyberanalysts to spot changing patterns of behaviour. It’s why US heavyweightAT&T is using machine learning to detect new patterns in network trafficand help root out ‘bad actors’ that can cause network disruptions or databreaches.

“I see more than 100 billion potential vulnerability scansand probes across our global backbone every single day,” said Bill O’Hern,senior vice president and chief security officer at AT&T. Referring todevice connectivity, software-defined networks and 5G, he added: “You can’treally protect these new technologies with a legacy approach. It’s really keyto understand that you need to evolve your capability along with thesetechnologies and take advantage of machine learning or other AI technologies inharmony as a platform across your whole ecosystem.”

To compile risk-rating scores in the network,Capgemini recommends that telcos use metrics that are data-driven andquantitative, rather than depending on domain insights from cyber analysts.

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