LIVE FROM WEDO TECHNOLOGIES APAC USER GROUP, KUALA LUMPUR: An expert on communications risk and assurance fears telcos will fail to properly address the dangers associated with digital transformation because they aren’t allocating sufficient resources to keep up with the exponential increase in threats.

Eric Priezkalns, editor of CommsRisk and a member of the Risk & Assurance Group (pictured), which offers free information and advice to risk and assurance professionals, said during a keynote the telecoms industry is facing a risk explosion and no one is in a strong position to deal with it as the dangers are multiplying and getting more severe.

“The genie is out of the bottle, the data is all over the place, people are getting hacked all the time. You get bored of the news headlines because every week somebody is getting hacked. That shows how far behind we are and we need to be able to address these issues,” he said.

“Put simply, not enough attention is being given to all the ramifications of change. There is a danger that only a few specific risks are properly mitigated, giving a false confidence that the broad swathe of potential pitfalls have been covered, when the reality is that they have not even been properly considered,” he explained.

The launch of IoT services is adding to the complexity: “Connectivity creates new business models and traffic on our networks. But a lot of the new devices collect data and are new entry points for risks to our businesses that we never considered before. We have more weak links in our security chain than ever before.”

Making money
Priezkalns argued it’s not going to be easy to make money from digital transformation: “We need risk managers to step up and say let’s not put our business at risk because of the reputation damage and the potential financial liability if data is lost. We’ve seen shareholder value be destroyed in big telcos as a result of hacking.”

While everyone can agree a million-dollar revenue leakage is a lot of money, he said a big hack can take billions off the value of a company: “That’s why I encourage you to focus on protecting the value of your company. We need an integrated approach, combining data protection, IT security and fraud teams.”

He noted there are significant dangers associated with storing and analysing lots of customer data, and asked if telcos really have the right skills and people in place?

Data management requires up-skilling staff and changing people’s remit, which is an opportunity for people to cover more than they have in the past, he said. He also suggested operators create chief risk officer positions, with responsibility for exploring threats collectively.