Telcos add intelligence sharing to cybersecurity alliance

Almost two years after the Telco Security Alliance was first established, three of its members have announced what they describe as "new collaborative efforts" that are designed to "further enhance the ability to detect and eliminate threats from customer environments."

According to a joint release from AT&T, Singtel and Telefónica, the aim is to share threat intelligence and "indicators of compromise (IoCs)" related to cybersecurity threats and global attack campaigns in order to be able to respond more proactively to, and ultimately combat, cyberthreats.

As explained by Jaime Blasco, AVP of product development for AT&T Cybersecurity, "this relationship supports the global fight against cybercrime. This initiative already proved valuable to AT&T's visibility into current threats, and as we continue to work together, our focus is on utilizing this relationship to deliver better threat intelligence to our customers."

The Telco Security Alliance (which seems to have dropped "global" from its title) was first established in April 2018 by Etisalat, Singtel, SoftBank and Telefónica, with AT&T joining as a new member in March 2019. AT&T, Singtel and Telefónica are the first members to participate in the threat intelligence sharing initiative, but said an expansion to the other members is planned.

The expansion of such an alliance only serves to underline how worried telcos are about the threat of cyberattacks – and with good reason. The digital landscape is already littered with cybersecurity disasters ranging from a persistent, multiyear attack uncovered by security vendor Cybereason, through to the well-documented WannaCry ransomware attack.

As described by Patrick Donegan, principal analyst and founder at HardenStance, telcos have their work cut out. "As with other providers of critical infrastructure, telcos just have a big job to do to adjust to changes in the threat landscape and the new vulnerabilities that open up at the same time as new opportunities," he noted in an article published last year.

And the analyst is keen to know how the telco trio will collaborate and share information, as he noted on Twitter:

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— Anne Morris, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

HardenStance 2/20/2020 | 3:29:26 AM
Seen this movie before Greater collaboration between telcos on threat intel sharing is self-evidently desirable but I doubt very much that this will be the platform on which it happens for more than a subset of them - and even then I'm not convinced.

The Telco Security Alliance has a commercial intent which includes some telco partners while excluding other telco competitors. I've seen nothing from the Telco Security Alliance that convinces me it's anything other than a not-very-effective talking shop marooned at the periphery of each member telco's business. In a couple of years time, there's every chance it will have been forgotten about.

AT&T and Singtel already have a sizeable presence outside the US, courtsey of the acquisitions of AlienVault and Trustwave.  Telefonica and Softbank would be FAR better served by focusing on building up their own cyber security capability and credibility in their own home markets of Europe and Japan.

There's not much point in a grand global strategy to connect up the dots if there isn't much in the way of dots to join up. Orange's approach to becoming a European cybersecurity leader through sizeable acquisitions in the UK and the Netherlands is a lot more compelling than Telefonica's. 

Haven't we all seen this movie before?
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