Is Telco Cybersecurity the New Competitive Edge for Service Providers?

In my 20+ years working for and with telecommunication providers around the world, I’ve witnessed firsthand how the industry has evolved to offer continuously improved services to a wide audience of consumers. One of the most amazing things about this industry is that it provides essential connectivity service to every segment of society – from consumers to large enterprises. The race to deliver the best connectivity and widest coverage at competitive prices has fueled this fast-paced industry for decades.

So, are telcos doomed to forever compete on coverage and prices? Is there any other way to gain a competitive edge? Can offering telco cybersecurity as a service to their customer base help give them a competitive edge and even raise ARPU? These questions are exactly what we set out to learn by commissioning Coleman Parkes Research to survey 3500 connectivity customers across the US and Canada.

Who Should Provide Cybersecurity?

The first fundamental question that needed to be addresses is if consumers even consider their service provider to be able to provide cyber security? After all, their brands are associated with voice and data service, not cybersecurity. The survey asked straightforwardly, “Who do you think should provide the cyber security protection for Internet connected devices?” Nearly a third (29%) of respondents said their service provider! This figure is shockingly high considering cybersecurity is off-brand for most telcos in the North America. So why is this figure so high? I think this is likely because the telco is the trusted authority for the internet connectivity of all the customer’s devices, so it is natural for customers to also see them as a trusted source of secure internet connectivity. Think about it. Do you consider the water company a trusted expert on water safety? How about the electric company? Are they an authority on safe delivery of electricity to your home? The same holds for internet providers and internet security. Your customers know and trust you to provide both.

Combined, around half of consumers answered that the device manufacturers (32%) should be responsible for cybersecurity of devices or that they the consumer should take care of cybersecurity by using a preinstalled app that came with the device (19%). This actually follows the same reasoning as with telcos.  In the US, many people still get their mobile devices from their operators. So, if they believe that security should come from a pre-installed app, they might be indicating that the operator is responsible. Again, the brand trust transfers to the realm/topic of security.

Shouldn’t Consumers Take Responsibility for their own Cybersecurity?

Only the remaining 20% answered “Consumers should be responsible for cybersecurity via an app that they download.” In this scenario, each individual subscriber is left on his or her own to know which kinds of security solutions are necessary (antivirus, malware, phishing, ransomware, etc.), to review and select the best set of solution providers and then procure, install, configure and maintain them all. These consumers, in many ways, answered the question correctly, as telcos and device manufacturers don’t really provide ample security for the lifetime of the device or all devices connected to the service. But how good is the average consumer at protecting themselves against cyberthreats? Do they know which solutions to purchase and how to install, configure and update them? Are they doing so for all connected devices in their home? PCs and phones? What about smart home devices like Alexa, security cameras and kitchen appliances? How much time, money and technical skill will it take to do this effectively?

Consumers Aren’t Cybersecurity Professionals

Despite the market being filled with cybersecurity companies, including giants like Checkpoint and McAfee and a stream of promising new startups, the average person is still fairly defenseless against cyberthreats. Your customers aren’t IT security professionals and they don’t want to be. They know the threat is real and security is important, but they can’t be expected to bear the burden of securing themselves alone. This is the reason why so many of your subscribers already believe you should take responsibility for providing security as part of the monthly service. Your consumers want to ‘set it and forget it’, knowing someone else is taking care of their cybersecurity.

Allot is already working with Tier-1 CSPs around the world to deliver network-based security services to tens of millions of subscribers. Want to learn more about how Telco Cybersecurity can give you the competitive edge and increase ARPU?

Join our webinar on November 5th:   Cybersecurity for Consumers: Crucial Ingredients for Getting it Right

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