August, 2023

Rethinking Telco DDoS Mitigation: Why Legacy Approaches Fall Short in the Modern Age

CSPs are increasingly responsible for supporting critical national infrastructure (CNI), facilitating smooth communication for businesses, government branches, and public bodies.
The Telecoms sector’s interconnectedness with other sectors underscores its pivotal role in maintaining a country’s infrastructure. However, this essential service is under siege from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, including Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

The telecommunications industry is at a critical juncture, facing an unprecedented wave of sophisticated DDoS attacks that threaten to disrupt secure and reliable connectivity—a cornerstone of modern civilization. As Communication Service Providers (CSPs) play an increasingly vital role in supporting critical national infrastructure, the need for robust, scalable, and cost-effective DDoS mitigation strategies has never been more urgent. One emerging solution is the hosting of virtual distributed applications directly on routers. This approach offers several advantages that make it particularly well-suited to address the evolving DDoS challenge.

The Changing Landscape: New Opportunities, New Risks

New technologies like 5G, IoT, MEC, and cloud computing are revolutionizing the telecom industry, offering unprecedented opportunities for innovation and growth. However, these new opportunities are accompanied by unprecedented new risks.

Cybercriminals are quick to exploit these technological advancements, resulting in larger and more diverse attack surfaces. The scale and frequency y of network-born attacks have surged, and port scanning activities have become more complex. The proliferation of IoT devices has expanded the number of endpoints on public networks, providing fertile ground for hackers to plant malware and bots.

The Need for a Comprehensive Rethink

The emergence of new attack surfaces demands a rapid and comprehensive rethink of network security strategies. For instance, compromised IoT devices at the edges of CSP networks can now be weaponized as part of botnets to launch devastating attacks against critical infrastructure. This complexity necessitates a shift to more adaptive, scalable, and cost-effective security measures.

Why Traditional Approaches Are Inadequate

To combat this, many telcos have traditionally relied on scrubbing DDoS attacks are a persistent threat in the telecommunications industry. These attacks aim to overwhelm a network, service, or application with more traffic than it can handle, rendering it unusable centers as a primary method of DDoS mitigation. Here’s how scrubbing centers work and their role in helping telcos manage DDoS attacks.

Limitations of Current Solutions

  • Latency Issues Redirecting traffic to an off-site scrubbing, center
    introduces latency. In today’s fast-paced digital world even a few
    milliseconds of delay can have a significant impact on user
    experience and service quality
  • Scalability Concerns Scrubbing centers were designed for the scale
    of attacks that were common years ago. As DDoS attacks have
    grown in size and complexity, these centers often struggle to keep
    up without significant investment in hardware and bandwidth.
  • High Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Maintaining a scrubbing center is expensive. The costs include not
    just the hardware and software but also the manpower required
    for 24/7 monitoring and maintenance.
  • Inflexibility Traditional scrubbing solutions are not agile.
    They often rely on predefined rules and lack the ability to adapt to
    new types of attacks in real-time.

A New Paradigm for DDOS protection in Distributed Telco Networks

The advent of cloud computing and distributed network architectures has fundamentally changed the game. These technologies offer a more flexible and scalable approach to dealing with DDoS attacks, making the old scrubbing center model increasingly obsolete. One of the most promising developments is the integration of security applications directly into routers. This approach offers several advantages that can reduce the TCO and improve the effectiveness of DDoS mitigation strategies.

  • Real-Time Response By hosting security applications within the router, telcos can
    analyze and mitigate threats in real-time, significantly reducing
  • Scalability Router-hosted security solutions can be easily scaled up or down to meet demand. This is particularly beneficial in the age of cloud computing, where network resources can be dynamically allocated as needed.
  • Lower TCO Reducing the need for or the load on scrubbing centers and the
    associated maintenance costs can significantly reduce the TCO.
    The in-router approach leverages existing infrastructure, making it
    a more cost-effective solution.

As state-sponsored actors and cybercriminals increasingly target secure and reliable connectivity, it’s clear that traditional DDoS mitigation strategies are no longer sufficient. The adoption of new technologies like 5G and IoT has expanded the threat landscape, requiring a more comprehensive, distributed, and adaptive approach to network security. By transitioning from legacy scrubbing centers to in-router security applications, CSPs can better protect their networks, comply with regulatory standards, and ensure the uninterrupted service that modern civilization depends on.

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