& cplSiteName &

Nokia's Efforts to Lead in Security

Patrick Donegan
2/2/2017
100%
0%

You get a sense of the challenge facing traditional telecom vendors in network security when you look at the financial results of some of the leading names in this space. Juniper, once a trail-blazer in security, just rounded off a terrible year for its security business, reporting fourth-quarter 2016 security revenues down 30% compared with a year earlier.

Meanwhile Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP), one of the market's strongest performers, has been widely lauded for growing revenues by 7% in 2016 compared with 2015.

There may be a consensus that cybersecurity is the number one issue for businesses in 2017 but converting fear of cyber threats into orders for security hardware and software is still hard work, even for the best of vendors.

Against this commercial background, Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has distinguished itself from its peers in being willing to make a strategic push around mobile network security. And last Friday, the company invited some industry analysts to Helsinki to update them on the company's strategy.

The big takeaway for me was that there is no let-up in Nokia's strategic emphasis on security. At the same time there's also no sign of any specific turbo-boost in the pipeline. The roadmap is being worked on to ensure that the leadership it has established relative to Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is maintained. It seems to me that the gap is still significant. But it's still not so great that either of its main rivals couldn't close it with a year or two of investment and supporting organizational realignment.

Let's start with LTE security. Nokia was early to ship eNode Bs with PKI certificates pre-installed and early with its own PKI certification authority. It was also quick to resell Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR)'s SRX platform for a Security Gateway (SeG) that could do the basic decryption of S1 traffic at the hand off to the core as well as support firewalling and other security features at that interface.

The update here is that post-Alcatel-Lucent acquisition, the positioning of the former Alcatel-Lucent 7750 Service Router as Nokia's new LTE SEG (security gateway) platform is well underway. Nokia claims to be number one in LTE security: Given the high concentration of LTE security deployments Europe, and given that Nokia was first to market with an end to end solution, the claim is certainly plausible.

Just as interesting, though in a different way, is the company's claim to be number one in Gi Firewall deployments. Nokia claims more than 70 deployments here, including some where it has been contracted to implement the Gi Firewall in front of the mobile packet core or EPC of other vendors.

Let's consider Nokia's "70" number for a moment. There are more than 700 mobile operators worldwide, which means Nokia is claiming market leadership having deployed at less than 10% of the total addressable market. Forget for a minute whether Ericsson, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) or Huawei have deployed more or less Gi Firewalls than Nokia: The striking thing about Nokia's number to me is what is says about the number of mobile operators worldwide that are still running their mobile packet core or EPC without any Gi Firewall at all.

That there are some doesn't come as a surprise -- I've heard it before and Nokia reaffirmed it on Friday. But that it could be a lot more than just "a few" -- i.e. by implication, it could easily be as many as one in three -- came as a surprise to me. What are these operator folks thinking, exactly? Let me guess: "It won't happen to me"?

Sales of Nokia's NetGuard network-based mobile malware detection solution sound as though they remain sluggish rather than spectacular, with a couple of Tier 1 operators in each major region reportedly using it now. Being focused on helping mobile operators detect and remediate malware once it's already made it onto a smartphone, Nokia doesn't generate the same headlines as security vendors that compete to be first to discover new malware.

But the fact that Nokia's tracking of mobile malware infection rates -- based on seeing hundreds of thousands of mobile malware samples -- is showing an upward trend worldwide aligned with what CTIA reports seeing in the US is something with which few other vendors can compete. Additionally, NetGuard customers benefited from its warning of a big increase in brute force auditing against Telnet servers during the early part of the fall of last year. According to Nokia, it was only subsequently that the Mirai botnet that carried out the attacks on Dyn was identified as the probable cause of that surge.

Consistent with Nokia's targeting of the IoT market, NetGuard is being evolved as the security module for its IMPACT platform for IoT. (See Nokia Aims for Big IMPACT in Enterprise IoT.)

I suspect "slow-ish" rather than "spectacular" also accurately describes sales of Nokia's SS7 security solution, if only because this is still a very nascent market. Operators are initially interested in monitoring what type of traffic is coming into their networks via their STPs (signal transfer points) before they decide exactly what -- if anything -- to do about it. My sense is that Nokia's play here is a flag in the ground targeting the legacy SS7 protocol but that this may serve as a platform from which a more ambitious security solution could evolve over time, potentially targeting newer protocols such as Diameter.

The analyst event was held in conjunction with the Nokia Hackathon. This year, around 150 hackers participated in taking a crack at breaking into Nokia's own network infrastructure as well as that of its operator customer, Elisa Corp. . This was around twice as many as last year's event. The goal is to serve up products with fewer vulnerabilities as well as shorten product development cycles.

Another Nokia Hackathon will be held in the US later this year. The company is also working on resourcing an ongoing bug bounty program for rewarding those that identify vulnerabilities in its products. This is increasingly common in the B2C worlds: I suspect Nokia will be among the first telecom network infrastructure vendors to introduce one in the B2B context.

There were a number of other indicators of strategic intent during the day in the areas of DDoS protection, vulnerability management and IoT security that I'll be watching out for in future.

When the bar is set so low by its peers, it's difficult to avoid being moved by the positives of Nokia's approach to network security. But there are criticisms to be made. For example, except for leveraging it for the new SEG platform, the new router side of the Nokia house doesn't feature prominently enough in the company's security vision for my taste.

There's potential for mainstream network routers to take on a greater role in security policy enforcement in more software programmable telecom networks. Juniper already has a reasonably well developed story here. Nokia could potentially do with one too (or at least an explanation of why this isn't a roadmap the company buys into).

Moreover, many of those same mobile operators that take delivery of an SEG based on the 77XX will already have other physical and virtualized iterations of the same platform deployed throughout their network, including as a cell site gateway. There are opportunities to leverage the 77XX series for security, such as by dropping malicious traffic at the cell site as well as having it apply decryption and other security policies as an SEG deeper in the network.

I've no doubt some of Nokia's folks are thinking about these kinds of things. And yes, perhaps it was too early to talk about them on Friday. All the same I can't help thinking that even some small mention of some kind would help bring all of the company's potential security assets together in a more rounded way. Watch this space -- I will.

— Patrick Donegan, Founder & Principal Analyst, HardenStance

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
JamesPointon
50%
50%
JamesPointon,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/17/2017 | 4:27:12 AM
Good for Nokia
I heard that Nokia has been steadily declining for some time now, the market being taken by some other providers. It's good to hear that they are still in the game. The first phone I bought was actually a Nokia and though I have upgraded so many times since then - it still works :) That's quality!
More Blogs from Column
The technical challenges of going wireless aren't small.
As new ambitions demand next-gen support, IBB has identified three primary ways that CSPs can upgrade their OSS/BSS systems to deliver that support.
To succeed at virtualization, operators need to realize that standards bodies, open source initiatives and vendor ecosystems aren't going to help.
MANO in the NFV space will be put through its paces at Light Reading's fourth annual Big Communications Event in Austin next month.
Take control of your career and confront stereotypes, overcome biases and achieve the full measure of success to which your talent, hard work and ambition entitle you.
From The Founder
Either we perform a complete 'factory reset' on the way the telecom industry creates and deploys virtualization, or we face the consequences.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Mobile Operators & Video

4|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ovum's Ed Barton discusses the latest mobile operator strategies for mobile video.
LRTV Custom TV
Infinera Introduces Instant Network

4|20|17   |     |   (1) comment


Mike Capuano, vice president of marketing at Infinera, discusses the advancement from Instant Bandwidth to new Instant Network capabilities, which include Bandwidth License Pools, Moveable Licenses and Automated Capacity Engineering (ACE).
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Vodafone's Eubank on Sponsors, Mentors & Moving On Up

4|19|17   |   4:25   |   (0) comments


Vodafone America's Head of Operations Kimberly Eubank breaks down the difference between a sponsor and a mentor and shares why both made a big difference in her career.
LRTV Custom TV
NYC Auto Show: Are We Smart Yet?

4|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


The auto industry is facing some big transformations as electric vehicles, autonomous technology and connected cars are seen as the future of the industry. During the much-anticipated NY international auto show, there was an emergence of new technology and mobility service on the show floor. Aside from performance, brands like Lincoln, Hyundai, Honda, Mercedes and ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Impact of Video

4|18|17   |     |   (0) comments


David Mercer from Strategy Analytics discusses the impact of video on current strategies.
LRTV Custom TV
Pardeep Kohli Discusses Network Transformation & the Market Opportunity for the 'New' Mavenir Systems

4|13|17   |     |   (0) comments


In a brief discussion at MWC 2017, Heavy Reading analyst Adi Kishore talks to Pardeep Kohli, CEO, Mavenir Systems about the creation of the 'new Mavenir' and some of the key challenges facing operators in today's market. A key theme of the discussion centers around operator need for software-only, virtualized solutions and how they will need to adapt to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Tech Maverick Shares Her Tips for Gender Inclusivity

4|12|17   |   7:28   |   (0) comments


Wendy Hall Bohling, a corporate escapee, author and gender exclusivity consultant, tells her story of sexism, bias and progress along the road to gender equality in the workforce.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at MWC 2017

4|11|17   |     |   (0) comments


At Mobile World Congress 2017, the biggest mobile industry gathering of the year, Huawei showcased its new innovations and solutions with the theme "Open Road," which focuses on cloud, 5G, operation transformation, videos and consumer-oriented products. Its campaign has been recognized by three awards given by GSMA.
LRTV Custom TV
China Telecom NFV Infrastructure on RSD

4|6|17   |     |   (0) comments


Lynn Comp, senior director of market development of Intel, is joined by Chong Zhang, storage engineer at Inspur and Ou Li Yan, architect for technology strategies of China Telecom on what NFV brings.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's IMPACT Software Demo

4|6|17   |     |   (0) comments


Khamis Abulgubein of IoT market development at Nokia demonstrates IMPACT (intelligent management platform for all connected things), a software solution with a horizontal approach to managing any device on any application.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia Introduces Virtual Service Router for More Rapid Service

4|6|17   |     |   (0) comments


James Cumming, product line manager for virtualized service routers at Nokia, demonstrates how the virtual router based off the Nokia ecosystem changes the network function experience.
LRTV Custom TV
The Keys to SD-WAN Success

4|6|17   |     |   (0) comments


Versa Networks CEO Kelly Ahuja talks about the key requirements for service provider-managed SD-WANs.
Upcoming Live Events
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Brazos Hall - Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Time for a Telecom Reboot
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 4/19/2017
Unlicensed: It's What's Next for US Mobile Operators
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/19/2017
First Year TIPs the Scale Toward Success
Denise Culver, 4/24/2017
Verizon's Fiber Spend Won't End With Corning
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/19/2017
Pai Picks Up Deregulatory Pace
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 4/20/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.