Why operators need an integrated Security Strategy to remain relevant as a service provider, not just a pipe provider

I presented at a recent sales conference for a large security / IT solution provider on the evolution of the telco industry and the role security and protection plays in that evolution.  I show below a cut down version of the slides I presented, removing the discussion on specific market opportunities and actions.

In the discussion on telco evolution I focused on 4 area:

  • Web evolution: discuss the 3 phases of web evolution and the emerging role of a “trusted agent.” Operators know much more about their customers than web service providers.  Critically, ad-sponsored models mean the advertiser is the customer not the user.  However, for telcos the users are the customers, hence telcos have far better fit in being the trusted agent than most web service providers. Yet operators remain dumbfounded on how to adopt this role.  TiVo and Amazon are two examples of trusted agent, e.g. with TiVo I turn on my TV and my favorite shows as well as suggestions of shows I may like are there.  TiVo uses my data to create a vastly better experience than flicking through uninteresting channels.  Operators can do what TiVo does but on a much broader scale.
  • Power of devices: we’ve moved to the PC model for mobile devices, and as STBs include Java so that will be the case for IPTV within a few years.  In mobile we’ll likely consolidating onto 5 OS (Operating Systems), significantly reducing the fragmentation that’s stifled growth in mobile applications.  However, end devices will need protection.  An operators’ security layer must focus on the device, as well as the network and services.
  • Customer perceptions:  I’ve covered this in several previous articles, customers no longer make a distinction between web and voice services they’re all just services.  For operators to remain relevant as service providers they must play a role across a broader range of services, and not just act as a pipe-provider also a trusted agent.
  • Rate of service innovation:  Operators are opening their networks to increase the rate of service innovation, but in doing so its never been easier to get malware onto a phone and in time a STB.  The ‘elephant in the room’ in opening the network is security.  Operators must take an integrated approach using their SDP (Service Delivery Platform): including network, devices and services – because its about their customers NOT just their network.

In summary: customer data, trust, security and protection are critical for operators to get right in this emerging environment.

Operators need an integrated security and protection layer, not point solutions for each service as is the case today.  That is protection from malware across all network services e.g. IP, SMS, MMS, WAP push, widgets, apps, etc.  And protection in the network, in devices and in services.

SDP vendors need an integrated security solution across network, services and end-points, which means a partnership with a leading security/protection technology provider is key.  Its a rapidly growing problem as its a highly profitable and more importantly safe criminal business compared to drugs or prostitution; hence a specialist security/protection partner is essential.