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Internet Service provider networks carry an enormous amount of traffic, so it’s not surprising that they are at the forefront of combating security threats. Our experts have pinpointed several trends to watch out for  in 2020.

1. Security Becomes the New KPI

End users and businesses alike are using their mobile devices for everything from streaming movies to order processing. For some, their mobile device is their primary working environment, making availability and security of service critical.

Reliability, performance, and availability are the three traditional key performance indicators (KPIs) mobile network operators use to measure customer satisfaction—but security is rapidly closing in.  As reliance on mobile devices and networks continues to skyrocket, so too does security risk.  4G networks are already seeing more security incidents than ever;  as 5G deployments expand and IoT devices proliferate,  the need for to provide strong mobile network security becomes increasingly critical. Measuring that security will require mobile network operators (MNO) to deploy visibility and threat detection capabilities that work across a multi-vendor, virtualized or containerized network and service infrastructure.

With the increased level of threat comes opportunity, however, and MNOs are in a unique position to tie threats back to locations, devices, and individual users. As they defend themselves, they can also offer enterprises, IoT application vendors, and even consumers value-added security services, differentiating themselves within the market.

2. Weak Endpoints Spur Weaponization of the Internet

In 2020, hackers will intensify the weaponization of the internet by leveraging the rapid growth of connected devices to either make them part of botnets and/or use them as DDoS attack reflectors, proxies, or for other nefarious purposes.

The explosion in the number of new connected devices and the introduction of new transport technologies and protocols will be the main contributing factor in this dynamic. Security solutions are getting smarter, but so too are hackers, who use new protocols to circumvent defenses and build new capabilities. NETSCOUT has seen attackers double the rate at which they weaponize new protocols in the last few years and the trend will continue in 2020.

It’s paramount that all the stakeholders in the internet community—ISPs, network equipment manufacturers, manufacturers of connected devices, integrators, cloud providers, government entities, enterprises, the cybersecurity industry, and others—take ownership in a collaborative effort to confront the reality of a weaponized internet to make it a safer place for everyone.

3. DNS Visibility (or Lack Thereof) Takes Center Stage

A standards battle is brewing around  Domain Name System (DNS) that may reduce the ability of service providers to protect their users from internet threats. DoH (DNS over HTTPS) and DoT (DNS over TLS) encrypt DNS traffic and can prevent service providers from gaining visibility into the sites and services their users lookup (and then visit). Service providers and enterprises have come down on the side of DoT, while web companies and browser developers have placed their bets on DoH, which they say offers better privacy and increased performance for their cloud DNS services. What it doesn’t offer, however, is better security.

If users migrate to DoH, the visibility  service operators have into the over-the-top services their customers utilize will be reduced, and their ability to protect their users from internet threats will also diminish.

As both protocols gain traction, network operators of all types are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact a lack of DNS visibility will have on their day-to-day activities. Imagine that a DoH service fails for some reason – either internal outage or a DDoS attack – and presents itself to the user as “No Internet Connection.” This would likely lead to a support call blaming the service provider, who has nothing to do with the DoH service causing the problem. These kinds of issues will be debated heavily in the coming year.

4. IoT, 5G Privacy Concerns Get Real

Today’s staggering growth of IoT devices will be further fueled by the rollout of 5G. As manufacturers rush to produce low-cost devices with integrated 5G connectivity, devices will permeate our lives so thoroughly that it will be nearly impossible to keep personal and private information out of the public domain. This, in turn, gives hackers even more to work with. 

It is imperative that companies start designing systems with visibility, transparency, and security integrated from the start. Visibility and transparency into IoT devices and their activities can and should be provided by OEMs, mobile network operators, and enterprises. This visibility can in turn be used to provide peace of mind to consumers and can also be used to drive value-added security services that create new revenue opportunities for service providers.

Read the latest DDoS research from the NETSCOUT Threat Intelligence Report. Download the report.

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