COVID-19 Forces UK Communications Service Providers to Prioritize Cyber Security and Business Continuity

Communication Service Provider Research 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic is somewhat of a paradox in the UK: the government was accused of reacting slowly in enforcing strict lockdowns across the country, yet its vaccination program has served as a model for other countries to follow. This has led to an increased sense of optimism for UK-based businesses, with the economy due to experience its fastest period of growth in more than 70 years in 2021, after shrinking to its lowest point in over 300 years.

However, with many businesses committing to more of a hybrid working model, communications service providers will need to continue to adapt to a more distributed working environment for the foreseeable future. This presents a unique set of challenges.

To examine how COVID-19 has impacted UK communications service providers, including the scale of demand and the growing threat of cyber-attacks, A10 Networks surveyed over 1,200 senior professionals from five different countries: France, Germany, India, Middle East, including 250 UK respondents. The survey report analyses the challenges and issues that communications service providers are facing, and how they are adapting to a post-pandemic world.

Distributed Environments Lead to a Broader Cyber-attack Surface

Overall, nearly all UK communications service providers said that COVID-19 has accelerated their transition to a more distributed environment, with on average 44 percent of network traffic affected. These communications service providers are seeing increased demand from different locations, forcing them to redistribute network capacity and scale up in specific locations. As a result, they have also had to scale up their infrastructure.

This new distributed environment has led to an expanded cyber-attack surface. Communications service providers have had to invest heavily in cyber security technologies and with a renewed focus on business continuity and resilience.

Additionally, many of the surveyed communications service providers said that they would need additional capabilities and cyber security technologies to protect their customers’ networks from cyber-attacks in the next two years.

Fluctuating UK Investment Plans

Investment plans for UK firms were a mixed bag. More than half of respondents have paused their investment plans for the next three years as a result of COVID-19. However, some investment plans have been accelerated particularly around cyber security.

Where customer relationships are concerned, more than half of respondents have seen an increase in demand from customers for online platforms and portals so that customers/subscribers can self-serve, as many are now dealing with a larger pool of customers/ subscribers. However this does make them more vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Hybrid Working Models Create more Opportunity for Cyber-attacks

While the UK vaccination effort is proving to be one of the most efficient worldwide, with more than half of the UK adult population having received both doses to date, nearly three quarter of UK communications service providers believe their customers will continue to operate with employees working from home even post-pandemic. Despite the optimism of returning to a social environment that resembles ‘normal,’ only 28 percent believe the environment will snap back to pre-COVID-19 working practices.

If you are interested in understanding more about the cyber security challenges facing communications service providers, download our research report here.

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July 16, 2021

About Adrian Taylor

Adrian Taylor is the Regional Vice President of Sales at A10 Networks READ MORE