CXO Forum 2023 Sponsor Series: In conversation with Dr Pablo Molinero, Fortinet

CXO Forum 2023 Sponsor Series: In conversation with Dr Pablo Molinero, Fortinet

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Bridge Alliance’s flagship event, our CXO Forum, returned as an in-person event held in Singapore this year. Against the backdrop of the “Telco to Techco: Who Dares Wins” theme, our SVP of Alliance Partnership and New Business Ken Wee spoke to some of our sponsors on how they can help telcos in their transformation journey to meet the new challenges posed by the 5G era and beyond.

5G changes how people and devices connect with faster data speeds, lower latency, increased network capacity and better user experiences. As with any new technology, however, 5G deployment brings new security challenges, particularly network security risk. What are the network security challenges and what are some key considerations that mobile network operators should keep in mind when implementing security services for their customers?

In the second of our be in conversation sponsor series this year, Ken interviews Dr Pablo Molinero, Senior Director, Product Management for Telco at Fortinet, to discuss the topic of enabling 5G security to maximise growth for mobile network operators.


Ken: Good afternoon, Pablo.

Pablo: Good afternoon to you too.

Ken: How has the introduction of 5G presented MNOs with opportunities in their addressable market segments? And what is the value they provide?

Pablo: Yeah, so 5G definitely is a much better network than 4G. It enables new use cases and makes existing cases easier to implement or to automate. There are some examples like network slicing exposure, Internet of Things, mission critical networks, the industrial automation, smart cities or virtual and augmented reality.

The other thing that we are seeing is that in many parts around the world, we’re seeing that the revenues from the residential market are flattening or already flat. And it’s no wonder that all the new use cases for 5G, they are targeting mainly enterprises and governments and this is a way of increasing the revenues that the operators get.

Ken: Why is security a condition for 5G success?

Pablo:  So the answer is simple. As I said before, a lot of the new use cases are for enterprises and the enterprises, they don’t want just plain connectivity. What they want is a secure pipe that means that they want to bundle connectivity and security together.

And this way the security is no longer just a cost to the MNOs and but also as a new source of revenue. So the problem that we have also with 5G is that other new technologies are being introduced, things like cloud, things like containers, edge computing, rest interfaces, Open RAN etc.

So all these new technologies allow the operators to be more flexible and agile. But at the same time, there are other new components and that means that they are increasing the attackers of the attack surface.

The good thing is that we have tools to plug these new attack vectors that have emerged with 5G and other related technologies.

Ken: What are some key security use cases that MNOs can consider adopting? And how does this drive enterprise adoption and trust?

Pablo: So the first thing that any MNO needs to do is to secure their own network to prevent their network from being compromised. Because then your service will either stop or be affected and your reputation will go down the drain.

Once the network is secure, then we can start talking about adding new security services. The most difficult ones are things like secure networking that includes secure SD-WAN and SD-Branch. Another one that we can add is the security at the access and endpoint with zero trust network access, secure access services, edge SASE or endpoint detection and response.

You should not forget also the cloud security and this includes the protection of APIs and workloads but also cloud-native firewalls. The last thing that you need to add is the managed security operations and this includes the threat detection, threat hunting and incident response.

Ken: What are some key considerations that MNOs should keep in mind when implementing security services for their customers?

Pablo: Yeah. So there are multiple ways of having these security services and the main reason why we have many of them is because the customers, they vary, their situations, they vary.

For example, you may have customers with several branch offices. And here we recommend the use of SD-WAN and SD-Branch that will secure the traffic flowing in and out of the branch office, but also the traffic inside that branch office. Then you have customers that have a lot of teleworkers and remote workers. And for this type of customers, we recommend SASE—that is the secure access services edge and clean pipes.

Then you have customers that use extensively the public and the hybrid cloud. And for these customers, we have a set of cloud native firewalls and tools that will protect the services and information that is hosted in these cloud services.

And then finally, you will have large organizations that will have or will want to have a managed security operations where they want to have outsourced the detection, the mitigation and the response to any threats that they may have.

Ken: How can Fortinet assist MNOs in ensuring a secure 5G ecosystem for their customers?

Pablo: Well, the first thing is that we need to work together in order to secure the MNOs’ network, that means that we need to prevent the MNOs from being attacked and for that attack from being successful because if your network gets compromised, then you will have to pay penalties from regulators. You will have to pay compensation to the affected customers and you will have a big loss of reputation.

The second way how MNOs and Fortinet can work together is to offer security services on the top of the connectivity and these security services, they need to be compelling to the enterprises and governments that will use the network.

 So we have talked about the different services that we can enable. But the main thing is that with these managed security services, you will increase revenues and you will reduce churn. And we have seen that a lot of very successful use cases with operators both in the US and in Europe.

Ken: Pablo, thank you very much for joining us today.

Pablo: No problem. Thanks a lot.