Telecoms industry and DNS attacks: attacked the most, slowest to fix

EfficientIP, a provider of DDI (DNS, DHCP, IPAM) solutions, has unveiled its latest report on cyber security in the global telecoms Industry. Telecoms organisations face the most DNS-based attacks, and each attack costs companies an average of £460,000 to remediate.

EE, TalkTalk and other recent outages remind us of the pressure telecoms and their networks are beginning to face due to the rise of edge computing, mobile app usage and on-demand videos to name a few.

The findings from new EfficientIP research on the global telecoms industry shows how much access into DNS Server is valued by cyber criminals. A successful cyber breach on a telecoms organisation could lead to a loss of revenue for businesses due to slower internet connections and no landline telephone services. The research found three key themes:

Global and industry specific trends on DNS attacks

DNS-based attacks cost organisations globally £1.7 million on average every year across several industries.

• 76% of all organisations globally were subjected to a DNS attack in the past twelve months, and 28% suffered data theft.
• 42% of all respondents in the UK spent almost an entire business day (six hours) to restore their systems.
• Top five security threats for Telecoms organisations are: DDoS (42%), Malware (36%), DNS Tunnelling (31%), Cache Poisoning (28%) and Zero-Day Exploits (20%).
• Telecoms targeted most by DNS attacks and pay the most to fix cyber breaches.

Telecoms have suffered more attacks than any other surveyed. Telecoms organisations admitted to having faced four attacks on average over the last twelve months.

The average cost to fix a single attack is £460,000 in the telecoms sector, highest in the survey. To put that into perspective, the average cost for the healthcare sector is £210,000.

Furthermore, 5% of telecoms organizations surveyed admitted an attack cost them more than £3.75 million.

A quarter of telecoms organisations (25%) admitted they have lost sensitive customer information as a result of a DNS attack. This is higher than any other sector surveyed.

For 42% of telecoms companies surveyed, attacks resulted in in-house application downtime, which causes poor customer experience online. This number is the highest in the survey, tied with education (42%) and services (42%), followed closely by manufacturing (39%) and retail (37%), the lowest number going to the public sector (28%).

Telecom companies unprepared and slow to fix DNS cyber attacks

As recent cyber-attacks showed how crucial patching was to avoid easy exploits, telecoms have only applied an average of four patches out of the 11 critical patches recommended by ISC in 2016.

It took longer for telecoms organisations to mitigate the attack. 40% of telecoms organisations admitted it took them six hours (almost a full working day) to mitigate a DNS attack. In contrast, over half of retailers only took one hour to fix the issue.

EfficientIP’s CEO, David Williamson, points out that recent news makes it more urgent than ever Telecoms organisations protect their networks from DNS-based attacks and improve their network management tools.

He said: “Telecoms organisations need to adapt to the new surge of cyber-attacks and cannot use yesterday’s security technology for today’s problems, otherwise short and long term costs could strike a severe blow to company revenues.”

“To face recent industry challenges and customers’ high performance expectations, the communications sector needs to change their approach to network management and incorporate automation as quickly as possible.”

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Video ad company Teads acquires Brainient

Teads, the video ad company that last month raised $47 million in debt financing in order to go on a buying spree of other adtech startups, is staying true to its word. Today it’s announcing the acquisition of UK and Romania-based Brainient, the interactive video ad startup founded by Emi Gal, who has been a fixture of the London tech scene for almost as long as I’ve been reporting on it.

Founded in 2009, Brainient and its smart Romanian engineering team hit on the idea of increasing the engagement and performance of online video adverts by making them more personalised and interactive.

The former refers to way Brainient-powered ads can tap into any data source to allow the ads served to match a user’s profile and preferences — including socio-demo, geolocation, screen used, time of the day, weather (or basically any other type of contextual data) — while the latter includes things like making video ads ‘shoppable’ or the ability to submit an in-video form to request further information about a product.

The Brainient studio is a suite of tools that takes care of the heavy lifting to make these kind of interactive and data-driven video ads, including ensuring they can easily be reconfigured to work across formats and devices and they are compatible with the disparate video ad networks and publisher properties. And it’s here where Teads’ acquisition of Brainient comes into play.

Bertrand Quesada, CEO of Teads, told me in a call that the plan is to be able to offer the newly-named Teads Studio to the company’s existing customers for free, in order to increase the ROI of the Teads video ad proposition.

That’s because the European company specialises in so-called “outstream” ads: video ads that reside outside of video content, such as placed in an article between two paragraphs of text.

These already potentially perform better than traditional video pre-rolls and by making the ads themselves data-infused and interactive, the idea is to not only enable Teads’ customers to innovate around where video ads are placed and how they are delivered but also within the creative itself. Brainient has always claimed that its interactive video ads perform better than standard ones.

In a call with Brainient’s Gal, he sounded upbeat about the exit, although both he and Quesada declined to reveal terms of the deal. Brainient had raised around $4 million in total funding, including a $1.8 million Series A in 2012 led by Prague-based Credo Ventures with participation from Atlas Venture, Estag Capital, Sherry Coutu, and Dave McClure’s 500 Startups.

A source close to one of Brainient’s investors also told me they were very happy with the return the startup’s exit has produced and they wouldn’t hesitate backing Gal a second time, should he ever go on to start another company. Separately, another source told me that the startup had previously fielded offers of around $10-12 million, so make of that what you will. I also understand that although Gal and Brainient’s other co-founder and CTO Andrei Baragan were the startup’s largest shareholders, they no longer held a majority stake.

Meanwhile, Gal tells me he’ll be relocating to New York City to help Teads Studio sell more into the U.S. market (something he said he needed to do urgently as far back as 2012!) and that this was always the plan once Brainient felt it had become a leader in Europe. He also says that with Teads’ resources, Brainient plans to double the size of its engineering team in Romania and continue to iterate the product.

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