Securing the Nation: The Crucial Role of Governments and Regulators in Mobile Network Security
Secure mobile networks are the unsung linchpins of national security, enabling the seamless communication and data transmission that drive modern societies. As we stride into a digitally dominated era, the role of governments and regulatory agencies in fortifying these networks against an evolving threat landscape becomes crucial. This article delves into the instrumental role of government and regulatory agencies in safeguarding national interests, shaping the future of security through public-private synergies, and realizing a vision of enhanced national security.
Mobile networks have become a central battleground in the ongoing pursuit to keep our world safe. The recent conflict in Ukraine is a testament to this, where actors on both sides are weaponizing mobile networks to fight the information war and disrupt, intercept, or track mobile communications. Signaling vulnerabilities are exploited to intercept messages or voice calls and geo-locate troops and cargo. We have not seen it at scale yet, but the signaling networks’ vulnerabilities could potentially be exploited to bring down critical infrastructure through Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. Yet, mobile network resilience is not just a concern when it comes to active war and conflict – it’s a constant concern.
While geopolitical conflicts have brought the arguments around mobile security to the fore, they were always there, and mobile threats have surged in recent years. Threat actors are constantly looking for vulnerabilities that can be used in attacks against networks. These malicious elements are well-equipped, in many cases state-sponsored, with the capacity to threaten the well-being of individuals and the security of states.
While there will always be a weight of responsibility on mobile network operators to keep subscribers safe, regulators and national security agencies also have an essential role to play, and they are becoming increasingly aware of the threats posed to mobile networks on the signaling layer.
Safeguarding National Interests
National security agencies are government bodies tasked with ensuring the security of the state and protecting its citizens. This includes a non-negotiable responsibility to protect communication networks, with the power to enforce compliance with cybersecurity and data privacy laws and regulations. The stakes are high; the risks and consequences of inadequately addressed threats can be catastrophic both in terms of national security and economic stability.
Information sharing around threats and attacks in the operator community and between operators and national security organizations is often called for, not least by government bodies, to provide insights guiding them in developing recommendations and regulations.
Unfortunately, there is a systematic lack of visibility into signaling networks. Many mobile network operators lack the capability to accurately analyze and detect malicious signaling traffic in their networks, which means there are no insights to share, and without insights, the responsibility to keep society safe cannot be executed.
Security Through Technology
National security agencies need global insights to understand the global signaling threat landscape. To be valuable, such intelligence needs to build on data from as extensive a set of networks as possible, from as many regions of the world as possible, providing coverage of any potential threats, threat actors, and their methods. Utilizing analyzed and contextualized data from various operators, both historic and continuously updated, provides government agencies with unrivaled, real-time visibility into the evolving global threat landscape and the actionable intelligence necessary to safeguard national interests.
As the geopolitical landscape continues to evolve, the fusion of technology with policy, underpinned by collaborative endeavors between governments, regulators, and operators, will pave the way for a more secure future for nation-states. The onus is on government and regulatory agencies to not only uphold the mantle of security but also to foster an environment that is conducive to continuous improvement and collaborative engagement.