A rigorous and holistic approach to cyber security is critical for service providers, because trust is at the heart of their business

Cyber attacks are a growing risk for organisations of all types. But security breaches can be particularly damaging for service providers, because their network infrastructure is at the very core of their business. If the network suffers an attack, customers may lose connectivity. They’ll inundate call centres with queries and maybe even switch providers. Lose your customers’ trust, and you lose business.

Earlier this year, Arbor Networks’ latest Annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report found that service providers are facing a growing number of threats, including increasingly severe distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

The percentage of them who experienced DDoS attacks was 86% in the 2016 report, up from 77% in 2015. And 60% had experienced DDoS attacks targeting their data centres, compared to 55% the previous year.

The report also found that “peak attack sizes and the frequency of large attacks have increased dramatically this year”. So it’s no surprise that DDoS attacks were the top service provider concern, named by 88% of respondents. Other types of attack, including infrastructure outages and bandwidth saturation, were also major concerns.

Sam Rastogi’s blog  is a great place to learn more about the large-scale DDoS attack launched last year against the US Service Provider Dyn. The attack used a botnet of just 100,000 IoT devices, and find recommendations on how service providers can protect against this type of attack.)

Network-based technology, like IP video and the internet of things, is becoming more important. And this means that protection against cyber threats like this is increasingly critical for service providers and telecoms companies.

They need to make sure that their most important assets are protected so they can support new broadcast video and mobile network services, as well as their more established services. A reputation for patchy service is hard to shake off – and could be fatal in a fast-developing market.

Cisco can enable service providers to make sure their services are reliable. We have a comprehensive range of solutions, including Cisco ASR 9000 virtual DDoS protection  , which embeds Arbor Networks DDoS detection and mitigation technology, as well as the Cisco Firepower 9300 and 4100 Series Next Generation Firewall appliances  with integrated Radware Virtual DefensePro, into your network.

We can help you build an integrated security architecture using technology like this. But we don’t think that security is just about installing equipment – it’s about our entire approach.

We’ve established a Secure Development Lifecycle to make sure that our products are resilient and trustworthy. It means that security concerns are baked into everything we do, from conceiving the initial idea, to sourcing components and writing code.

It’s important that weaknesses don’t creep in at any stage in the process. So we consider security and trust when we’re designing a product, as well as thinking hard about the processes, technologies and policies involved with its development. We attack our own products to test their security. And we are transparent and supportive if things don’t go well for our customers.

Anthony Grieco, a senior director at Cisco who leads our security and trust organisation, sums up our approach by saying: “Thinking about security can’t be bolted on, especially when we think about the transition happening in the IoT world.”

We think that more service providers should be asking their security vendors tough questions about their approach. Because it’s only through thinking comprehensively about every stage of the process that trust can grow.

And when providers know that their network infrastructure is secure, they can be confident in delivering the reliable services that their business depends on.

Find out more about how Cisco can help you develop an integrated approach to security .


Yves Padrines

Vice President, EMEAR Sales

Global Service Provider