IBM: Telcos lack security plans for next-gen networks

IBM releases survey on same week it unveils NGN security software

While a majority of carriers plan on rolling out next-generation network architecture in the next five years, less than half of them say they have strategies in place to protect their NGNs, according to a new IBM survey.

The survey, which was released less than a month after IBM announced it was investing US$1.5 billion in computer security products, comes just days after the company unveiled its next generation data protection software that's being aimed at both enterprise customers and small-to-midsize businesses.

The survey was conducted among more than 65 telecom carriers worldwide by IBM Internet Security Systems. It shows that roughly 85% of carriers plan on rolling out NGN architecture within five years, and that 87% believe that NGNs will fail without strong security to protect them. However, when asked whether they had developed a strategy for protecting their NGNs from attacks, only 46% of the respondents said that they have.

Clarence Morey, director of marketing development for IBM Internet Security Systems, says he can't say for sure why less than half of telcos surveyed don't yet have plans in place to secure their NGNs, but speculates that they're more concerned with upgrading their services first and then upgrading security as they go.

"It's clear to me that companies that don't yet have a security plan in place need to get started," he says. "A lot of telcos need to make decisions and morph their strategies in a matter of months, and they've been accustomed to doing it in a matter of years."

Counse Broders, a senior research director at Current Analysis, expresses a similar view. "Security is a key ingredient for carriers as they move into next generation services and solutions," he says. "Clearly, those providers without a security solution in place risk losing their competitive edge."

In addition to its findings on telcos' preparation for NGN security, the survey also found that telcos believe mobile device endpoint compromise poses the biggest threat to NGN security, followed by core IMS network compromise and IMS multimedia application threats.

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