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Alla Goldner, Director, Technology, Strategy & Standardization at Amdocs

Inside Telecom Staff

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Alla Goldner - InsideTelecom

Amdocs is an international company founded in 1982 that specializes in software and services for communications, media and financial services providers and digital enterprises. The company helps service providers, communications agencies and financial service providers with modernizing solutions that involve digitization and automating systems and services in many industries. 

Mrs. Alla Goldner, Director, Technology, Strategy & Standardization at Amdocs, discusses the company’s strategic direction, the future of 5G and building a better connected world.

What are some of Amdocs’ most notable achievements?

Our company’s purpose is to enrich lives and progress society and help build a better connected world using creativity and technology. Over the years, we have partnered with the leading players in the communications and media industry, enabling next-generation experiences in 80 plus countries through hundreds of transformation projects. We have helped service providers better meet the evolving needs of their customers as they drive growth and transform and take their business to the cloud. In the network domain for example, Amdocs has helped communications service providers open their networks to their full potential by providing software and services in the areas of network engineering and rollout, hybrid network management and automation, cloud/virtual network expansion and autonomous operations for LTE, 5G, fiber, cable, satellite and more. These are all notable achievements that we are very proud of.

You are recognized as a female pioneer in the world of telecoms. Can you tell us how you came to achieve this role? What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?

I have always worked in the most innovative areas of telecommunications, with some of the recent examples being 5G, NFV/SDN, and cloud-native networks. I always strive to see the bigger picture, which not only includes a combination of the key aspects of the most advanced technologies, but also the relevant definitions and implementations, the impacted standards, evolving open source communities, and the vendor implementations.

I also participate in and manage several industry-body initiatives and activities. Some of my ongoing duties are ONAP requirements subcommittee chair and TIP OCN Orchestration stream co-lead. These roles really help me to see the broader technology evolution picture as an insider.

Some of the biggest challenges, but also an opportunity at the same time, is keeping pace with the continuously changing technologies and ecosystem in the world of communications networks, and the need to stay up to date with accurate and relevant technical and business information all the time.

As a female in this industry, I do my best to encourage young female engineers, inside and outside of Amdocs, to be proactive, to plan their career, and to not be afraid of failing while innovating.

Amdocs has launched a special section related to COVID-19 on their website. Can you share some insights from this section?

The post COVID-19 world is one in which service consumption and network traffic patterns will be much more dynamic than before. There are all kinds of new challenges service providers are facing, such as, how to better optimize and build their networks, how to engage more effectively with customers through digital mediums, how to automate operations with less manual intervention, how to tailor and launch new types of service plans, and more. So, this section highlights some of the solutions that we can deliver to communications service providers to address these new challenges.

What are your thoughts regarding 5G deployment? What are the benefits and risks associated with the technology?

5G technology brings to service providers the opportunity to implement new use cases and deliver new services, including for the enterprise segment, ones that require very high bandwidth and extremely low latency, something which could not be achieved with the previous technology generation. It is important to mention that 5G also brings a new disruptive mix of standardization, open source and industry innovation communities and projects to telecom, such as ORAN, ONAP, and several new TIP projects (OCN being one of them). The challenge is to define where open source ends and where vendor implementation starts, and specifically, what vendors should do differently in this new changing environment, and how to maintain their own strengths and competitive advantages. One may look at these disruptions as an advantage, whereas others may see this as a risk. This is the reality though, and those who will be able to successfully adapt to these new patterns and build their products seamlessly on top of open systems and open source platforms will succeed, in my view.

What role do you think the pandemic will play on the telecom industry?

It may postpone some 5G deployment plans in the short-term, but I believe it will expedite things in the long-term (well, I hope pandemic will not last long!). The reason for that is the highlighted and fast-growing need for high-quality applications we are using from everywhere (and not only from the office or home) and the increased need to automate to reduce manual operations, which eventually requires very high levels of system assurance, including AI/ML, and excellent bandwidth and latency characteristics, which only 5G can deliver. 

Amdocs has partnered with some of the biggest names in the industry. What are some tactics you deploy to attract and maintain high-quality partners?

The communications industry is undergoing significant disruption in many areas, but one area that I will focus on is around the transition to open cloud networks. Here, a larger and more diverse ecosystem is starting to participate in providing solutions. We are successful in partnering with some of the biggest names in the industry, such as cloud-scales like Google, Amazon and Microsoft, because we bring not only advanced, complementary solutions like service and network automation platforms into the mix, but because we are also uniquely positioned as one of the most capable and experienced systems integrator in the communications domain. One that can pull together and integrate all the pieces to help communications service providers on their network transformation journeys to the cloud.

What are some of the biggest trends currently in the telecom world? Are you doing anything to stay ahead of these trends?

The biggest trends I would identify are ‘softwarization’ and virtualization of the telecom networks and the move to the cloud. Virtualization is turning into a push for ‘cloud-nativeness’, with major activity by cloud providers such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba and others. These companies are also starting to take share in traditional areas of the telecom world, especially for different types of edge deployments. Additionally, another significant trend is openness and creation of Open APIs among different network layers and components, defined by standards organizations such as ORAN, 3GPP, TMF, MEF, along with open source for the components themselves (ORAN-OCS, ONAP, Akraino, CCNT, TIP OCN are some examples of the relevant communities). And 5G, which is well on its way to being deployed across the globe, would be the first, hopefully successful, combination of all these mentioned trends. We are in lockstep, and in some cases staying ahead, with these trends, being closely and deeply engaged in leading the work done by some of these organizations. As an example, our leadership position in ONAP and in TIP OCN, right from the launch of these initiatives.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you have come across while in the telecom industry? How did you overcome these challenges?

For some years, it has been a world led by only a few big network vendors, such as Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, which made it very difficult, almost impossible, to bring any significant advances in standardization and reduction of lock-in through products built by other companies. The way to overcome this impasse is to get significant service provider support towards addressing this challenge jointly with standards bodies and new product entrants. By the way, this is something that I successfully did while working for my previous company, Allot, through introducing TDF (Traffic Detection Function), UPCON (User Plane Congestion) and several additional concepts into 3GPP standards. The landscape is becoming much more distributed and diverse, with all the trends I mentioned before, and therefore, I would guess the disruption may be easier to achieve now. Still, I would say, the major rule to overcome such challenges is to understand what the customer really wants and “recruit” them to support you.

From your experience, what is one lesson you think people should know at an early age?

Don’t be afraid to fail. One must try. In the worst case, a person will always have enough time to take a different path and will become more experienced through the failure. Young people – belief in your forces and ability to succeed is 50 percent of success, at least. And if you believe in yourself, and if have the confidence to take on challenges, others will also believe in you.

What advice would you give fellow women in the telecom industry?

With the introduction of work in the telecoms world largely done by the open source communities and by industry collaboration communities, the need in human interaction skills becomes more and more important. This is where women can show their strengths – a combination of technical and human skills – IQ plus EQ, and this is what I would recommend fellow women to focus on to help them along their career path in the telecom industry.

In IoT, beyond the smartphone, door opener and coffee maker alarms, what application of IoT do you see really making an impact in the future?

Smart city is one of the major IoT applications which found its way into reality and will only expand. Smart factory is another significant example of successful ongoing adoption. The health industry, especially considering the ongoing Covid-19 situation, will become more and more digitalized with IoT devices to play the key roles of measuring and transforming the information within the system, so less human interaction and human resources are needed. And, the advent of 5G networks will only accelerate the deployment of more and more interesting IoT-based services.

Amdocs completes 1.7 billion customer journeys per day. What are the most common types of journeys completed?

Just to be clear, this refers to the journeys of end-users, that is end customers of the service providers that we serve. Examples of journeys we directly impact and complete include things like, an end-user utilizing an Amdocs developed digital portal to purchase a new offering or viewing and paying their bill. Another example of a journey is one where a user is consuming a service that includes the steps of authentication, authorization, access, policy control and charging, all again going through Amdocs systems. All kinds of communication and media consumption activities by consumers and enterprise users go through and directly touch Amdocs provided systems and solutions. We are in the critical path of supporting all these customer journeys.

What are some niche-market solutions that you have been able to work on?

I would not necessarily call these ‘niche’ as they will accelerate towards becoming mainstream in a few years. But given the spirit of your question, two emerging areas that we are deeply involved in is providing service and solutions as part of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and the ORAN Alliance initiatives, which I mentioned before already. TIP was founded by Facebook some years back, and both TIP and ORAN Alliance are focused on driving the realization of a vibrant open ecosystem of network solutions and integration services providers to help accelerate innovation, increase efficiencies, eliminate vendor lock-in and give service providers a wider choice of technologies and suppliers to help them transform and build the networks of the future such as 5G.

Can you envisage a completely cashless society or something close? What are the benefits?

I do believe it will happen at some point in time, as a fully digitalized community doesn’t need cash-based transactions and, in fact, there are some countries already, where cashless transactions are the norm. There are benefits in leveraging the same single platform people use for their bank transactions, for their shopping experience and for their personal expenses. However, there are different countries with different levels of digitalization at this time, therefore, the process will be gradual and will take a while.

Tell us more about the ‘good deeds’ solution. How does donating 700,000 GB help those in need?

I am assuming you are referring to the ‘good deeds’ solutions from service providers. I think this a great initiative the industry is taking to help users stay connected during these challenging economic times. The data donations service providers are making, is helping consumers worldwide stay connected during this pandemic, and this is somewhat akin to how food banks are keeping people fed during this challenging time. Of course, it’s not at the same level of urgent need, but it’s not that far off either. Connectivity is not a luxury, but a necessity in the world we live in today.

Besides speed, what is the importance of 5G for the world?

Realizing applications and services which require not only high speed, or in another words, bandwidth, but also low latency and along with several additional characteristics that only 5G can fulfill. This is on the technology side. But one major thing we sometimes forget about is enabling new monetization strategies to make it worthwhile to deploy, both for the carriers, and for the users.

How can some of your solutions help with business disruptions?

I will bring one example of what we are actively promoting in the standardization communities as well as in the industry in general. As you know, network slicing is a major 5G functionality, which allows to have separated virtual 5G networks, residing on the same physical infrastructure and using the same network functions. As I mentioned, one key thing for 5G to succeed is the ability to monetize it. A new charging method which can be useful for engagement of carriers with enterprises, is network slicing charging, where charge is not per mobile sessions of a subscriber, but by the consumption of a slice. We strongly believe this opens many opportunities for a new level of engagement and profitable monetization models, and thus, we include it as a part of our Network Slice Manager solution working along with our BSS system to drive innovation in this area.

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Exclusive Interviews

Michel Robert, CEO of Epsilon

Inside Telecom Staff

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Michel Robert, CEO of Epsilon
Tell us about your partnership with Aviatrix to provide the latest multi-cloud networking service?

We recently partnered with Aviatrix to deliver our own multi-cloud solution. It’s an end-to-end multi-cloud service running on Epsilon’s global network with the automation, operational visibility and control that enterprises need to simplify cloud networking.

Epsilon Cloud Networking addresses the real challenges in enterprise networking within and across the clouds. We’ve combined our expertise in global connectivity with Aviatrix’s cloud orchestration platform to deliver an end-to-end multi-cloud service, and we’re confident in delivering a best-in-class cloud networking solution for our customers.

This year we’re really focusing on our partner strategy. We already have a strong ecosystem of networks, cloud service providers and internet exchange partners stretching across 260+ points of presence (PoPs) in 41 cities globally.  We are looking to enhance our services by working with great technical partners, like Aviatrix, to enhance our interconnection services. There are not many companies out there that can offer their customers the comprehensive end-to-end solutions like we do, with rapid responsiveness and one point of contact.

How can Epsilon customers benefit?

Our solution makes multi-cloud networking simple for enterprises. Epsilon Cloud Networking leverages a multi-cloud network architecture with a common network data and operational control plane. Through point and click workflows and infrastructure as code automation, enterprises using the multi-cloud service no longer need to undertake the complex and manual processes of native cloud networking. The service provides everything an enterprise needs to transform their cloud networking through a single relationship.

Our solution really accelerates cloud network deployments to support the pace of business and application owners, which is a key benefit for customers. Our customers can move faster to meet demands at the click of a button. This provides full visibility across the clouds, simplifies their cloud network operations and can identify and resolve problems rapidly.

Security and troubleshooting are also a big part of the solution. Our managed service provider and enterprise customers can easily solve multi-cloud networking, security and troubleshooting issues. The multi-cloud network architecture has a common network data and operational control plane that gives them the full control they need.

What kind of challenges do you hope to overcome with this new multi-cloud service?

More and more enterprise IT organisations are using public cloud to support business transformation. The pandemic has really increased the pace of transformation for many companies, and enterprises are facing challenges including limited visibility, lack of network control and skill gaps, when connecting applications and data in the cloud.

A lot of enterprises don’t achieve expected return on investment (ROI) in cloud because of operational and network complexity. While many enterprises have started application migrations to the cloud, cost management remains an issue. On top of this, many cloud providers don’t provide the tools for operational visibility, control or security. Our new multi-cloud solution seeks to help businesses tackle these challenges more effectively.

It makes cloud networking simple for enterprises, with everything they need to transform their cloud networking through a single relationship with Epsilon.

Is the multi-cloud environment suitable for all enterprises?

Yes. In general, all industries have adopted the cloud, but individual companies will have to assess which applications are the most suitable to migrate to cloud platforms depending on types of the business applications and data, security and compliance requirements.

Our multi-cloud networking solution can be used by all kinds of enterprises across verticals, from technology to automotive, manufacturing or hospitality. Any enterprise looking to benefit from a multi-cloud environment can simplify their journey by using our solution. We provide connectivity from the last mile locations all the way to the cloud.

Talk us through Epsilon’s Network as a Service (NaaS) strategy? How will it play a role in the enterprise market in 2021?

Infiny currently offers three powerful networking solutions: Interconnection between leading data centres, direct connection to cloud providers and access to the world’s largest internet exchanges. We also have an Access solution for connecting branch offices, on-prem data centres and partner locations around the world to the Epsilon network and its cloud networking and interconnection services.

Infiny makes it much simpler for businesses of all kinds to meet their connectivity needs in one place, by removing the need to manage multiple vendor relationships. As the networking ecosystem gets more and more complex, I think businesses will be looking out for the simplest and fastest way to connect globally, which we’re able to do.

I believe in 2021, we’ll see drive towards platform-centric connectivity such as NaaS. These platforms deliver global connectivity using a self-service model, allowing the customers to buy and manage their network services on-demand.

By building solutions through partnerships, we can deliver best-of-breed solutions to our customers, more quickly and more scalable than if we had built the solution ourselves. Rather than competing against specialists in certain fields, we believe in partnering with some of these companies to offer the best possible solutions to our customers.

Partnerships are a big part of our business strategy. Our differentiator is that we can offer our customers the best-in-class solutions with high levels of responsiveness and flexibility. A huge part of that comes from partnering with top companies across different tech sectors, which can provide us with the tools we need to serve even more of our customers’ needs.

Our goal is to enable businesses to connect to the global cloud infrastructure they need in a simple and powerful way. We’re excited to announce more partnerships that we’ve got planned for the near future, which will enhance our offering further.

The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the pace of transformation. To what extent will digital workspace growth push cloud adoption and spending?

2020 was definitely a year of transformation. With a surge in the number of people working from home, there’s been huge demand for digital workspace solutions. As a result, cloud adoption and spending has increased dramatically, and it’s looking like this will continue in 2021. Remote working will start to become the new normal as businesses of all kinds have realised this year that productivity can continue even without having teams in an office all the time. It will definitely be interesting to see how this accelerates cloud transformation in 2021 – I think we’ll continue to see growth, but at a steadier pace than 2020.

How does the new networking service enable customers to meet their security needs?

Our Cloud Networking solution provides enterprises with added security for distributed cloud environments. To get into the details, it offers advance security features including multi-cloud network segmentation, high-performance encryption, firewall insertion, CloudWAN, secure user access, secure site-to-cloud and ingress and egress. We provide all the tools that enterprises and managed service providers need to secure their customers’ cloud deployments and benefit from a multi-cloud environment, via our private network.

What are some of the unique challenges we face with cloud adoption?

Cloud adoption isn’t always straightforward, especially when enterprises are trying to connect within and between multiple different clouds and regions. Some of these challenges include skills gaps, limited visibility, lack of network control and operational complexity. Not all enterprises are experts in cloud, so without an expert partner it can be difficult to really unlock the potential of their cloud environments.

Many enterprises have invested large amounts of resources in building business applications within a public cloud environment but end up neglecting the connectivity underlay. Any application performance will ultimately be underpinned by the network it’s delivered on. Enterprises are needing more than basic connectivity from the standard internet connections, and that can be a challenge without the right partner.

 How will 5G rollout take cloud computing to the next level?

5G will be an alternative access technology for connecting the end users. It will contribute towards making a whole load of technologies more efficient, including cloud computing. With the rollout of 5G accelerating in 2021, cloud computing is really going to go to the next level. 5G can provide speeds 100x higher and capacity 100x more than 4G, on top of much lower latencies. This is going to transform customer experiences and improve business operations too.

I’m excited to see the impact of 5G on cloud-based applications and services, and just how much faster it will be to move data between locations. With better efficiencies come the opportunity to spend more time innovating too, so 5G could really be the key to new innovation in cloud native business and consumer applications that we don’t even know about yet.

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Mohanned Alosta, CEO of Libyana Telecom

Inside Telecom Staff

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Mohanned Alosta CEO of Libyana Telecom
How has Libyana handled the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic? What were the main challenges? And how were they met?

The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted the entire world, we, at Libyana, faced challenging issues on both the service providing and operation sides; however, we find ourselves in the right direction facing all of them.

On the service side, the lockdown naturally boosted network traffic, we were ready for this specifically since Libyana started network expansion in 2019, and continuously till this day, to ensure service quality for our customers. Our network expands simultaneously with users’ demand, maintaining the best user experience and enhancing it.

On the management side, our main focus centers on protecting our employees and partners aiming to minimize the risk of infection, by restructuring our operations throughout 2020, keeping only 30 percent of employees working from the office, with the remaining team working remotely.

At the same time, we utilized all solutions such as ERP, Online Dealer, Online Meeting to keep the business running normally regardless of all these circumstances. This proved to be an experience full of lessons learnt which will help us achieve our digital transformation plans.

In 2019, Libyana partnered with Expertise France to boost the local startup scene. Can you tell us more about this initiative? And what other efforts have been made to push startups forward?

Libyana gives special attention to innovation and entrepreneurship as a part of its social responsibility; the initiative with Expertise France aims to establish a first-of-its-kind center, which includes a business incubator and accelerator, called FabLab. In addition, we launched a new project, called Stream, offering all sorts of services and training to support entrepreneurs and MSMEs in Libya.

Stream provides training and support both technical and financial to 101 participants from 10 different cities through 7 programs over the course of 15 months. Through this project, 21 idea holders have managed to successfully transform their ideas into startups, while 76 percent of the startups that previously participated in the program stated that they experienced an increase in revenue following enrollment allowing for the creation of 126 jobs.

How are you planning to accelerate the company’s growth in 2021?

As the main telecom operator in Libya with all circumstances currently facing us and the telecoms industry, it is a big challenge for Libyana to keep stable growth in 2021.

First, as all online traffic increases due to lockdowns, we will focus on maintaining our network expansion and optimization efforts in an all-level capacity, capability, and stability, to be ready for any sudden traffic increase.

Second, we will continue our digital transformation journey for both our subscriber services and company operations, to improve the user experience and company efficiency during and after the pandemic.

Due to the effect of the on-going worldwide economic depression by the coronavirus, ARPU degradation is expected, thus, we are building more digital services to provide diverse service offerings to our subscribers.

With the African continent being heavily reliant on FinTech, are there any plans for Libyana to jump into the financial services sector?

As part of Libyana’s vision of enhancing our customers’ lives by connecting people in every way shape or form, we are planning to enter the FinTech sector by offering several solutions such as mobile money and online payments, which are part of our digital transformation strategy. The financial sector in Libya faces several issues, which is why our aim is to fill this gap and connect all Libyans on the financial scope as we do in telecommunications.

With 5G being the talk of the town in the telecoms industry, can you tell us about Libyana’s 5G efforts within the country?

Libyana is ready to embrace 5G, where the current network supports 5G evolution smoothly. Currently, we are analyzing the best business models for 5G and its application for Libya’s needs, as we are aiming to provide excellent service experiences and best service value to all Libyans.

Are there plans for the company to expand outside of Libya?

Currently, we are working for more cooperation with global operators to improve the subscriber roaming experience. For the time being, expanding into other markets is not considered a top priority on our list since times are still fragile due to the economic recession and the COVID-19 situation, but we continue to keep eyes on the global situation and all opportunities around us.

As technological advancements such as 5G, IoT, AI, AR, VR, and the like are starting to hit the mainstream, which one interests you the most? Why?

Both 5G and IoT are our highest priority, where the demand for M2M and massive data has drastically increased. A massive country such as Libya, which mainly leans on its oil and gas industry, needs to discover new opportunities in order to be ready for the 4th Industrial revolution.

Cybersecurity has become a must for all ICT/tech companies, especially during the COVID-era. How has Libyana strengthened its defenses against cybercriminals?

Cybersecurity is one of the highest priorities for us at Libyana, as we have three lines of defense:

  • The first line is all employees implement self-control over the cybersecurity of products such as strong cypher, VPN, identity authentication, and so on.
  • The second line is identifying and protecting all the service units against any cybersecurity risks to systems, assets, data, and capabilities to ensure delivery of critical infrastructure services.
  • The third line is a Detect and Respond mechanism, implemented appropriately into our activities to identify the occurrence of a cyber breach and take action on it immediately.
What is your stance regarding the ban on Huawei in some countries?

We understand the decision of some operators to exclude Huawei, however, its worthy to note that the ban has caused an interruption within Huawei’s supply chain. This has made the Chinese telco enter “survival mode,” which makes it face uncertain risks within its network operations and evolution, especially to operators that exclusively purchase equipment from Huawei.

Huawei is considered a titan in the telcoms world due to its strong comprehensive strengths, which is why we, at Libyana, have constructed parts of our network with Huawei equipment. In parallel, we can only hope that the company resolves its disputes with the United States as fast as possible to avoid the operating risk of its customers, and to protect investments and maintain competitiveness in the 5G era.

How did Libyana weather the storm during years of war and a struggling local economy?

Nowadays, telecoms is considered one of the most important sectors in Libya, keeping our customers connected regardless of the current fractured society, providing services to the whole country during all crises.

In case of any force majeure, we do our best to solve issues immediately guaranteeing civilians the communication they need. As the ceasefire agreement was signed earlier this year, it is expected that next year the satiation in Libya will hopefully become better and Libyana will continue its work to provide stable services.

We do not only consider ourselves as a telecom operator, but more of a basic society service provider; thus, regardless of what happens, Libyana’s main target is to always guarantee high-quality service to our subscribers while maintaining our contribution to the country.

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Joe Fizor, TBI Lead Solutions Engineer and Tech Guru

Inside Telecom Staff

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Joe Fizor
How will 5G impact enterprise mobility in 2021? 

5G will be a source of additional redundancy and diversity to company networks, providing much higher bandwidth and throughput. From a mobile perspective, 5G will allow several variations that need to be considered, such as 5G narrowband which will be great for IoT devices. End users looking for high performance and the ability to work remotely will need to focus on the wideband offerings which will have the higher speeds, low latency and high-capacity consumers have come to expect when hearing 5G. 

How will remote work evolve in the coming year? How can businesses prepare for that change?  

As many businesses continue to have an ongoing, larger remote workforce, we will see businesses running a cost analysis of price per square foot of office space versus the price of SD-WAN and/or business grade connections to remote users. Security has to be at the forefront too – we are no longer protected by the four walls of the office, but rather facing a diverse set of users on known and unknown devices. Focusing on Zero-Trust security architectures will continue to be critical. With the introduction of SASE as a newer framework, we will continue to see providers push identity access management (IAM), single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA), etc. to secure remote users. Additionally, as we continue the shift to remote work, businesses will need to balance their approach to gaining visibility into users/applications while not overstepping and straining their users through micro-management. The ability to enact “big brother” roles may prove too tempting for many. Unfortunately, we may not like it as end users, but visibility and analytics will continue to grow and be a top priority. 

Growth in 5G mobility requires greater security measures in parallel. What can a company do from now?  

Though mobility security is difficult, we cannot rely on the expensive firewall deployed on the edge of the network, sitting in the office that no one has entered in 9 months. Businesses need to understand the options regarding mobile device management (MDM), endpoint security, identity access management (IAM), and single sign-on (SSO)/Multi-factor authentication (MFA). Through MDM, companies can secure and remotely wipe devices if lost or stolen, push applications to ensure users have the tools they need, setup containers for business applications if the device is personal and go as far as expense management. This will help secure devices, but companies can go further with IAM and endpoint security to limit access based on location, device type, time of day, etc. Also, keep in mind that the security measures everyone needs to consider with 5G are no different from 4G LTE. Now there is more speed, more capacity, and more damage that could be done through malicious attacks. For example, DDoS attacks can – and have – stemmed from IoT devices. So, if you consider the high performance increases we will see with 5G, now with far greater bandwidth, many could be setting themselves up to witness some truly gigantic attacks.  

When training/retraining a remote team (in preparation for 2021), what should be at the top of the agenda?  

Top of the agenda for training should be discussing and reviewing business approved tools, applications as well as devices, along with security awareness training. If the business does not approve of a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy, then that needs reinforcement. Remote users can lead to nightmare scenarios for IT professionals and implementing policies to minimize attack vectors is critical. Communicating this to remote teams is just as critical, and educating them on how to stop phishing attacks, best practices when sharing information, keeping devices updated, and leveraging strong passwords will help strengthen every companies’ security posture. 

What challenges/risks are the remote workforce likely to face in the coming year? How to mitigate these risks? 

The remote workforce overall is an easy target for many attackers. Businesses and their employees need to be on the lookout for fraudulent emails and increased phishing attacks. Unsecure Wi-Fi connections can lead to man in the middle attacks, connectivity issues, and unknown third-party applications. The best advice I can give is to stay diligent. Check who is sending emails/attachments. If a request seems strange. . . pick up the phone and call to confirm the request. It really boils down to the same security framework we use on the network – Zero Trust. Assume nothing is safe and use caution in all aspects of work and personal life. 

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