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Neural TechnologiesMay 7, 2024 6:12:07 PM7 min read

The Cost of Data Breaches and How to Safeguard Your Customers’ Data with Neural Technologies

The High Cost of Data Breaches

A data breach is a security incident that occurs when unauthorized individuals gain access to confidential or sensitive information, such as personal data (like social security numbers, bank account details, and credit card numbers) or corporate data (like customer records, intellectual property, and financial information).

Anyone can be vulnerable to a data breach, from individuals to large enterprises and governments. However, telecommunications companies are at a higher risk compared to others. With vast amounts of customers’ personally identifiable information (PII) and financial data stored within their systems, this makes them attractive targets for cybercriminals.

Telecommunication companies not only face the threat of cyber-attacks but also must comply with various regulations and standards regarding data privacy. Failure to adhere to these laws can result in significant financial penalties and damage to their reputation.

According to a study by IBM, the total average cost of a data breach globally reached USD $4.45 million in 2023, a 15% increase in just 3 years. This cost encompasses various factors, including:

  • Forensic investigation: Identifying the source of the breach and understanding its scope requires expertise and resources.
  • Customer compensation: Telcos may be obligated to offer customer compensation and support to affected customers.
  • Regulatory fines: Data protection regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) can impose significant fines for non-compliance in the event of a breach.
  • Legal fees: Legal battles with affected customers or lawsuits from regulatory bodies add to the financial burden.
  • Public relations damage control: Rebuilding trust and brand reputation with customers after a data breach can be expensive and time-consuming.

In addition to the direct financial costs, data breaches also have long-term repercussions for telecommunications companies. Beyond the immediate financial impact, breaches can result in lasting damage to brand reputation and customer trust. Customers expect their personal information to be handled with the utmost care and security by their service providers. When a breach occurs, it erodes this trust and can lead to customer churn as individuals seek out more secure alternatives. Rebuilding this trust requires significant investment in communication, transparency, and enhanced security measures, all of which incur additional costs for the telco.

Furthermore, data breaches can have far-reaching consequences beyond the financial realm. They can disrupt operations, leading to downtime and loss of productivity as resources are diverted to address the breach and its aftermath. Moreover, breaches can also result in intellectual property theft or loss of competitive advantage if sensitive business information is compromised. This can have implications for the telecommunications’ strategic position within the market and its ability to innovate and stay ahead of competitors. Thus, the true cost of a data breach for a telecommunications company extends beyond the immediate financial implications and encompasses a wide range of operational and strategic challenges.

Data Breaches Risks in Telecommunications 

As more and more devices are connected, the telecommunications industry faces increasingly complex data security challenges. These challenges encompass risks of data breaches, including but not limited to the following:

  • Networks Hacking

Telecommunications networks are complex ecosystems, and cybercriminals are constantly scanning for weaknesses. Zero-day exploits, where hackers utilize previously unknown vulnerabilities, can be particularly dangerous. Additionally, SQL injection attacks, where malicious code is inserted into seemingly harmless queries, can expose customer data stored in databases.  Man-in-the-middle attacks, where hackers intercept communication between a user and a server, can allow them to eavesdrop or steal information.

  • Insider Threats

Disgruntled employees or contractors with access to sensitive data pose a significant risk. These threats can be intentional, with malicious actors stealing or selling data, or accidental, with employees lacking proper training falling victim to phishing attacks or using insecure data transfer methods.

  • Third-party Breaches

Telcos often rely on a network of vendors and partners. Breaches within these third parties can expose customer data as well. Supply chain attacks, where hackers target a less secure vendor to gain access to the main network, and data sharing gone wrong (sharing customer data with third-party vendors without proper security agreements) are growing threats in today's interconnected landscape. 

  • Social Engineering

Hackers often target telecommunications employees specifically, using social engineering tactics like vishing (impersonating legitimate entities to trick employees into revealing login credentials), smishing (using SMS messages for similar purposes), or pretexting (creating elaborate scenarios to gain trust and manipulate employees into revealing sensitive information). 

Why Customers’ Data Security on OSS/BSS is Crucial

Operational and Business Support Systems (OSS/BSS) lie at the heart of telecommunications operations, managing critical functions such as billing, customer relationship management, and network provisioning. Customer data security on OSS/BSS systems is paramount due to the vast amount of sensitive information they hold. This includes everything from personally identifiable information (PII) like full names, addresses, and identification numbers, to financial data such as credit card details and billing history.  Furthermore, usage data encompassing call records, browsing history, location information, and app usage patterns is also stored within these systems. A breach of any of this data can have serious consequences for customers, making robust security measures on OSS/BSS systems an absolute necessity.

OSS/BSS systems are not isolated entities. They often integrate with other internal systems and external partner networks for functionalities like fraud management, revenue assurance, service delivery, and data analytics. This interconnectedness creates additional vulnerabilities, as a breach in one system can potentially expose data across the entire network.

The sheer volume and variety of customer data stored within OSS/BSS systems make them a goldmine for cybercriminals.  By compromising these systems, attackers can not only steal valuable information but also disrupt critical network operations and damage a telco's reputation.  Therefore, prioritizing robust data security measures on OSS/BSS systems is no longer an option; it's a necessity for telcos in today's ever-evolving threat landscape.

Safeguard Your Customers’ Data with Neural Technologies 

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) and granular access control are fundamental pillars of customer data security, providing organizations with the tools to manage access to sensitive information effectively. RBAC ensures that access is limited to authorized individuals based on their roles, reducing the risk of unauthorized data exposure. Granular access control further refines these permissions, allowing organizations to customize access levels for individual users or groups, ensuring that users only have access to the data necessary for their specific tasks. This combination strengthens security by adhering to the principle of least privilege and minimizing the potential impact of security breaches.

With the introduction of new features and upgrades in Revenue Protection v12.2, powered by Neural Technologies, organizations can now implement advanced measures to fortify customer personal information data security in their OSS/BSS. Here's a comprehensive look at how Neural Technologies are transforming data protection and safeguarding customer data:

Role-based Data Access: Empower administrators with precise control over access to sensitive customer data, where role-based data access ensures that only authorized personnel can interact with specific critical information according to their specific roles. By assigning specific roles and privileges to staff members, organizations can tailor access permissions according to job responsibilities, minimizing the risk of unauthorized data exposure.

Multi-tenant Access Control: Segment customer data based on roles ensuring that users interact only with the information relevant to their responsibilities. This segmentation not only adheres to privacy regulations but also mitigates the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive data, particularly Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

Export/Print/Copy Restriction: Prevent unauthorized data extraction by restricting the export, printing, and copying of customer PII data and personal information to maintain control over sensitive data and mitigates the risk of inadvertent leaks or breaches.

Single Item Copy: Enhances data security by limiting the ability to copy individual items of customer personal information adds an extra layer of protection. This granular control reduces the risk of data misuse or unauthorized distribution, bolstering customer trust in the organization's data handling practices.

Enhanced Audit Trail: Keeps a detailed record of all data access and modifications ensures accountability and facilitates compliance with data protection regulations. Additionally, it includes user activity tracking to provide transparency and enable swift action in the event of any suspicious or unauthorized behavior, strengthening overall data governance.

The telecommunications industry faces significant financial and reputational risks due to data breaches, highlighting the urgent requirement for robust customer data security measures. Neural Technologies’ new upgrades were designated to fortify data protection, offering capabilities like anomaly detection, predictive analytics, and real-time threat monitoring. By harnessing these advanced tools, telecommunications companies can take proactive measures to mitigate risks, safeguard sensitive information, and effectively minimize the adverse effects of data breaches on both their bottom line and reputation.

Contact us today to explore how Neural Technologies can empower your customer data protection within OSS/BSS.