Collaborate to Trust Telco SaaS

Unlocking the full potential of telecom in the SaaS era relies on comprehensive strategies and a constant commitment to evolving security practices.

Collaborate to Trust Telco SaaS
(Credit: Andy Dean Photography / Alamy Stock Photo)

Communication service providers (CSPs) have historically exhibited a degree of hesitancy toward embracing Software as a Service (SaaS) models. This hesitancy stemmed from a desire to retain control over closed perimeter networks and to secure them according to individual preferences. The prospect of shifting toward an external cloud infrastructure appeared fraught with inherent risks, particularly considering the weighty responsibility of maintaining the reputation and trust of these entities. However, with the advent of 5G technology, the landscape has undergone a significant paradigm shift, compelling telecom companies to reevaluate their stance and recognize the potential benefits of SaaS. This shift allows them to refocus their efforts on core competencies while shedding the burdensome responsibility of infrastructure management.

The role of CSPs in safeguarding SaaS security cannot be overstated. They bear substantial responsibility as custodians of critical infrastructure and services, entrusted with protecting vast amounts of sensitive data while ensuring uninterrupted network availability. In the digital world, where people, businesses, and governments rely extensively on telecom services for essential communication, the stakes are higher than ever.

Major public cloud providers such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure have made significant investments in fortifying their security frameworks. These industry titans offer telcos compelling alternatives that either match or exceed the security measures achievable within closed perimeter networks. At the same time, specialized SaaS providers are addressing nuanced concerns around data security, privacy, residency, and sovereignty to offer tailored solutions specific to the unique needs of the telecom space.

While cloud and SaaS providers are often leading security contributors, telecom companies must implement robust security measures on their end. This includes:

Application Security: Enforcing regular password management, deploying web application firewalls, and following secure development lifecycle practices.

Operational Security: Implementing least privilege access protocols, ensuring comprehensive visibility into threats, and establishing stringent access controls.

Network Protection: Establishing secure connections via site-to-site VPNs, deploying transport layer security (TLS), and following other relevant measures tailored for SaaS environments.

Vulnerability Management: Regularly updating antivirus, anti-malware, and anti-ransomware protections across all devices and endpoints.

Compliance: Maintaining meticulous access logs and generating reports to demonstrate compliance with security mandates during audits.

Embracing a zero-trust approach alongside a multi-layered defense strategy is imperative for telecom companies. While assessing a provider’s capabilities is crucial, blind reliance on external vendors should be avoided.

Ensuring end-to-end security with a shared responsibility model

In the realm of telecom SaaS security, the adoption of a shared responsibility model is paramount. It outlines responsibilities across three layers within the infrastructure (protected by the cloud provider), the network (protected by the telco), and the application (protected by the SaaS provider). To ensure end-to-end security via this collaborative approach, the involved parties must maintain clear communication of their relationships, boundaries, and duties. Understandably, telcos may need to relinquish some control. However, this comes with the gained benefit of access to cloud and SaaS providers’ expertise, resources, and standards.

SaaS and public cloud providers have invested significantly in building exceptional security capabilities and teams, adhering to stringent industry and organizational policies, procedures, and practices. With extensive exposure to security threats and vulnerabilities across diverse sectors globally, these providers possess unparalleled experience in threat identification, mitigation, and prevention.

Cybersecurity experts assert that SaaS solutions can be equally or even more secure than on-premises alternatives when leveraging the capabilities of mature public cloud and SaaS providers. By collaborating with these industry leaders, telecom companies can meet the security requirements expected by governments, financial institutions, and organizations.

Charting the course: telco SaaS security in the era of innovation

The horizon of telecom SaaS security places the industry at the intersection of innovation and security. The keys to unlocking the full potential of telecom in the SaaS era lie within proactive measures, comprehensive strategies, and a constant commitment to evolving security practices. As telcos embrace SaaS and cloud advancements, a collaborative approach will pave the way for unprecedented growth, resilience, and security in the telecommunications landscape.

Philip Blanchar is the Senior Director of Nokia SaaS business operations.

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About the Author(s)

Philip Blanchar, Senior Director, Nokia SaaS Business Operations

Philip Blanchar is the Senior Director for SaaS Delivery and SRE Operations at Nokia Cloud and Network Services.

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