As enterprises and individuals both embrace digital transformation, telcos are also being pushed to innovate to meet market and subscriber demands. Value-added offerings that leverage the capabilities of technology solutions like 5G connectivity and A2P SMS for enterprises promise telcos the ability to generate revenue and thrive in a competitive market. For example, Ericsson predicts that telcos will generate additional revenue of $3.7 trillion by 2030 through various 5G-driven options.
However, as telcos get more innovative with their offerings, they have to be careful about opening the doors to new problems. One major concern in that context is the need to prioritize subscribers’ privacy.
Over the last few years, subscribers have become increasingly aware of their right to privacy. Studies have shown that 60% of subscribers are concerned about how their data is used. 47% of them believe that the apps they use gather their data through GPS, microphones, etc. There is a general uneasiness about privacy because of a lack of trust about the intent of businesses that have access to their data. It’s not just about the privacy of course. People are also worried about safety and security as cyber crimes have increased by 600% in 2020 alone.
As technologies get more sophisticated and operations more high-touch, telcos need to find ways to protect the privacy of their subscribers. They need to do this to regain the subscribers’ trust.
Here are some ways to safeguard their privacy.
How Can Telcos Protect The Privacy Of Their Subscribers?
In 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was initiated across the EU to protect people’s privacy. Telcos were also covered under this regulation. This means that telcos were equally responsible for safeguarding the subscribers’ privacy and data.
To safeguard subscribers from data breaches or privacy threats, telcos are implementing solutions such as:
- Content filtering
A2P SMS has become a popular communication channel for enterprises to reach out to subscribers. However, subscribers have been receiving an overload of SMS. Many of these messages are spam. To ensure that subscribers receive only genuine messages, telcos have started using content filtering options to identify and block spam messages. These filters look for messages with specific keywords or certain types of content, which could be considered spam, and block them before sending them to subscribers. Many countries in large telecom markets have already initiated a process where the messages are scrubbed, standardized, and sent in a specific template to safeguard subscribers from spam messages.
- SMS firewall
Considering that SMSes are vulnerable to suspicious malware attacks and spams, telcos use SMS firewalls to block illegal SMS traffic. When a message comes to the telecom operator’s network, the firewall immediately scans them for its originator, source, and route. It analyzes the messages and classifies them. The messages are immediately blocked, and the sender is informed if found to be suspicious. Telcos can also set intelligent firewall rules to determine which messages are authorized and unauthorized and also allow or reject SMS traffic accordingly. An SMS firewall protects the subscribers’ privacy and protects the telcos from losing their reputation and revenue over spurious messages.
- Direct routing
Grey routes have always been a concern for telcos as the messages are sent through unauthorized networks. As there is little control over these unethical routes, telcos stand to lose an estimated $62 billion of their revenue. Also, considering that these SMSes are sent through unethical networks that are inherently subject to less management and oversight, they could pose a privacy threat for subscribers and expose them to vulnerabilities. The solution to this problem is direct routing. Telcos can directly connect with operators in different countries, so the messages are sent directly to the subscribers in that country. Telcos can also set up re-routing or test the routes to ensure that the messages are sent through reliable networks. Telcos can also identify and fix routes that are suspicious to safeguard the data and privacy of subscribers.
Although telcos use sophisticated tools to bring transparency in their solutions, they cannot combat privacy breaches alone. Safeguarding the subscribers’ privacy requires combined efforts from Governments and enterprises too. Governments have started implementing regulations such as GDPR. As for enterprises, they are also developing products that have privacy firmly integrated into all phases of development. Ericsson says that even telcos must implement privacy by design to ensure that security and privacy policies are followed.
Innovative solutions will become a mainstay in the future. Subscribers will widely use technologies like 5G and connected devices. By making privacy a default element, telcos, enterprises, and governments will be able to safeguard the subscribers from vulnerabilities and ensure that they receive the best service and experience. Telcos and enterprises must also work with a trustworthy telecom solutions provider to ensure that their solutions are safe.