Getting your security settings right means more than simply choosing the right security technologies on-premise.
It also means making informed and intelligent choices about which communications networks you entrust to transmit your data between staff in different offices, and jurisdictions, as well as the myriad partners and third parties you do business with.
And this ultimately comes down to your choice of service provider.
These days there really are two kinds of communications providers that matter. The big marketing budgets of the massive incumbents mean we all know who they are. And many of them have been in business for 30-40 years.
Then there’s the smaller, agile, challenger providers who have really only emerged in the past 10 years or so.
Experience matters, of course. And the scale and reach of the big incumbents is undeniable. But one of the by-products of their age and size is what analysts in the know refer to as ‘technical debt’. In other words, their network infrastructures are sprawling and complex with countless different hardware and software solutions installed, ripped and replaced over time.
It’s something that plagues their networks - and the customers connected to them - to this day, while their own internal corporate systems are similarly ‘debt-laden’ from a technology perspective.
So what’s this got to do with cyber security?
The bigger, older and more moving parts a communications network has, the greater the likelihood it will have security vulnerabilities for criminal hackers and malicious state actors to exploit.
And for the owners of these networks, identifying and resolving these weak links is a massive game of whack-a-mole, while determining when they’ve been exploited is another challenge altogether. As a result the big telco operators need to allocate vast resources in trying to keep the bad guys out.
Which is not to say smaller challenger providers can afford to be – or are in any way – complacent. But their task is a lot easier.
This is especially true for so-called carrier-independent providers, which not only tend to operate less complex and technically-encumbered infrastructure, but are also the sole owners of the network.
This means they have a greater level of visibility, but most importantly control over the factors and variables which can give rise to security breaches.
Not only does this translate into less risk and greater peace of mind, but it also means superior network reliability.
With businesses so reliant today on the secure, reliable transmission of information, communications providers have naturally added cyber to their list of customer services.
And this is one area where the challenger providers can certainly claim as much experience as their bigger rivals.
Moreover, the best new communications providers can also claim to have cyber security more deeply embedded in their systems and corporate culture, given that for them it has always been a key priority, rather than an afterthought bolted onto networks – and companies - dating back to when hackers existed mainly in Hollywood movies.
A great example of how much business communications has changed in the 10 years since Australia’s incumbent telcos first faced genuine challengers, is the rise of digital communications platforms like Slack, Google Chat, and more recently video platform like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
As we’ve all seen, these cloud platforms – often bundled under the umbrella term ‘shadow IT’ – tend to operate independently from organisations’ core networks and systems, and they often require users to download updates and make adjustments to security and other settings without the knowledge – let alone permission – of IT administrators.
Like so many areas of cyber security, it sounds clear and obvious once you hear it, but the reality is that few carriers offer comprehensive cyber security services which fully take into account the realities of how organisations and staff are communicating today, and how that can impact your business as a consumer of their products.
It’s a huge and growing area of concern, which responsible, truly cyber-aware carriers know to monitor, audit and report on a regular basis, both for you, as well as with their own internal systems and processes to give you true confidence and peace of mind.