SAMENA Council, during the recently held Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh, organized by the Saudi National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA), voiced the views of its Members and reiterated the need to commit to ensuring digital inclusion while balancing key aspects of digitalization, including countering existing and emerging cyber vulnerabilities.
Bocar BA, CEO and Board Member of the Council, in his Intervention “cybersecurity at the heart of the next-gen telcos”, building on the views of SAMENA Council’s community of telecom service providers and network technology providers, described how the challenge of connecting 2.7 billion still-unconnected people around the world and the connectedness of billions of devices and machines that are emerging as a part of IoT and industrial IoT, require adaptation of the private-sector players within the digital ecosystem and balancing digitalization with security of the cyberspace.
Bocar BA emphasized that “Given the role of Telecom Operators at the nucleus of the digital ecosystem, Operators must unify and harmonize their security requirements and conformance obligations to prevent fragmentation. Isolated initiatives introduce complexity but do not demonstrably improve security. At the same time, regulatory and business expectations and priorities for Operators and Regulators should be aligned. Cybersecurity measures and costs incurred in compliance to regulatory requirements by the Private Sector be rewarded with incentives.”
A longstanding desire of Telecom Operators to evolve from being telecom companies to being technology companies is coming to life in this age of 5G. As a host of digital experiences are increasingly made possible, the foundation for the next “G” is being created. On the road to universal connectivity and new economic activity, Operators and policymakers must align themselves, and framework of security processes, such as Network Equipment Security Assurance Scheme (NESAS) and Security Assurance Specifications (SCAS) should become the Mobile networks regulations standards. The complexity of the ecosystem, access to the network, and numerous uses of the communication infrastructure, inherently make network and data security daunting challenges. Moreover, Operators, given cloudification rates across various sectors, also need to focus on telco Cloud-native developments and securing the Edge, to help better strategize on network security, privacy, and data security offerings.
Mobile networks are critical infrastructure and need to be robust and reliable. While they must ensure trust-building among the end-users to sustain the Internet, Operators may themselves need to adopt “Zero Trust” architecture principles within to ensure security and safety of the cyberspace. While preserving their commercial advantages and internal efficiencies, Operators must necessarily collaborate to synchronize their needs and requirements, and strategic messaging on the cybersecurity front.
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