By Mark Bole, CEO, Quortus
Connectivity solutions for many enterprises must meet a number of requirements: robustness, resilience, and consistency. More recently and increasingly so, another important element has been added to this list: infallible security. With regular news of hacks, breaches, and other kinds of cyber-attacks, existing connectivity provision is being placed under the microscope. Is it therefore time for enterprises to re-evaluate? Can they still depend on public, macro networks if they require a certain level of security? Can public network operators truly ensure that their systems are protected from data breaches?
In reality, open, public network threats can come from all angles. So, for enterprises managing sensitive information, where disruptions to connectivity can dramatically impact how they run their business or serve their customers, it’s not a worthwhile risk.
For these enterprises, what are the alternatives? If the macro public network doesn’t meet their security needs, where should they turn to?
Cyber-attacks are more common, sophisticated, computerized, and ‘defense-aware’. As such, it’s crucial for enterprises to find new ways of safeguarding their security architectures, protecting intellectual property, guaranteeing data privacy, and guarding business operations and the safety of the work environment. At the same time, the increasing number of connected devices creates new requirements that existing macro public networks are not equipped to address or support. As a result, verticals such as manufacturing, healthcare, utilities, logistics, and education are searching for alternative solutions to improve their connectivity and meet their security requirements, now and in the future.
The solutions for both considerations lie in private networks. A more secure option than macro public networks, private networks offer a pre-determined framework for managing network security which becomes easier to manage, scale and adapt. This means the removal of the intricacies involved in ensuring security in a variety of public Wi-Fi access points, or the risks created by “insider attacks” in a public LTE or 5G network.
A private network links a controlled group of devices, meaning that security at the application level isn’t as crucial as it is for applications running in a public domain, as they are set up to operate within specific security parameters. Additionally, private networks deliver substantial security benefits by being separated from the wider public network through access control policies operated by administrators. Access to the private network is only authorized to known, relevant devices and users, giving enterprises increased control and independence in creating their own security policies. This is particularly true for enterprises issuing their own SIMs, as they have the ability to control the encryption and security keys on their devices. As a result, enterprises can examine and review functions that will help to identify the incorrect or improper use of network resources, enhancing the network’s overall protection.
Private networks in use
A number of verticals can benefit from the security that private networks offer. Private network flexibility creates the security that organizations require to deliver connectivity within a single site or across numerous sites.
One key example is healthcare. Hospitals and health centers often cover wide areas, with multiple buildings with high occupancy counts. When it comes to security, hospitals require a network that safeguards highly confidential patient data, as well as one that is robust enough to ensure that critical devices and machines continue to operate smoothly. Utilizing private networks means that devices sharing sensitive information between teams can be registered on an entirely separate and access-controlled network. This allows healthcare facilities to share patient records and data across the network safely and securely. This mitigates the risk of external threats and minimizes the impact that disruption to connectivity could have on patient care.
The education sector is another area that reaps the benefits of private networks. With universities and colleges conducting high-end research and creating high-value intellectual property, they continue to be a target for hackers. In such applications, private networks are the ideal solution as they are created to serve specific organizations. The purpose-built network with security and managed policies ensure only authorized users can connect to specific access profiles. This provides universities and colleges with complete autonomy over who has access, how they access the network, and what they are allowed to do, safeguarding valuable intellectual property.
Similar to healthcare environments, education facilities often span large campuses and numerous buildings and locations. In this situation, private networks are key for creating a safe learning environment for both students and staff accessing academic resources, whilst simultaneously preventing cyber-attack attacks.
The next steps
As enterprises drive their digital transformation and evaluate existing connectivity provisions, their priority must be protecting themselves from security threats. As technology evolves, so do the risks. Enterprises need to have the right tools and parameters in place to safeguard their data and people. The key to this is the right connectivity solution that keeps pace with the evolving needs of the enterprise. While ‘failsafe security’ may seem unattainable, private networks are a great place to start.
About Mark Bole
Mark has over 30 years of experience in the mobile and technology industries. Having previously been CEO of several successful VC and private equity-backed companies. Mark brings a deep understanding of building sustainable growth in the technology industry.
The company creates agile and feature-rich private wireless networks for enterprises, industry, and government organizations, supporting many Industry 4.0 applications and bespoke use cases across a wide variety of vertical sectors including public safety, manufacturing, retail, and utilities. In terms of reputation, they’re very established and have partners and customers in the US and abroad.