MTS become a player in the security market

Photo: Sergei porter / fotoimedia

MTS decided to use the growth of cyber threats in the world and has started to provide new services in information security. This market is now estimated at about 40 billion rubles, which is almost ten times smaller than the revenue of MTS. However, in the context of the rising number of hacker attacks will grow

MTS, whose main business is rendering services of mobile, fixed and other telecommunications services, decided to enter the information security market, told RBC representative of the company Dmitry Solodovnikov. MTS will use its center for information security (security operation center, SOC) to provide services to outside customers. Such a center have with each major operator, the Bank or the owner of the cloud storage is a certain amount of IT-specialists, special computer equipment and software. “But the creation of its own SOC is not available to every company. On the other hand, we realized that our center can serve not only domestic needs”, — said the representative of MTS. For several months, the operator cooperates in test mode with several companies (names and other details were not disclosed).

The centre began round-the-clock monitoring of information security of MTS since January of 2017. It controls the security of the outer perimeter of information systems, analyzes incidents (virus infection, cyber-attacks, internal breaches of information security policy), it coordinates the elimination of the causes and consequences of incidents. “During the last attack of the virus WannaCry we were able to protect themselves and customers”, — said the representative of MTS.

On 12 may people around the world are faced with a massive attack virus that encrypted a victim’s computer and demanded for their decryption from $300 to 600 in bitcoins. In the early hours of the spread of the infection of the corporate computers, said the representatives of cellular operators “MegaFon” and “VimpelCom”. The next day, the fact of the attack recognized and MTS, but the company said that it managed to reflect that.

The company plans to develop standard products for future customers — the type of information threats, and solutions for vertical industries or business scale. MTS uses to protect against cyber attacks the world’s largest systems vendors, self-development and their “daughter” NVision group. The company did not disclose the costs of setting up SOC, but said that of the total amount of capital expenditures of the company in Russia, a significant portion is spent on IT systems, including those that ensure information security. By the end of 2016 capex MTS in Russia 73.8 billion.

Increased attention to cyber threats

According to the business security consultant Cisco Alexey Lukacova, in 2016 the volume of the Russian information security market is about 1% of the world, or about $700 million (40.2 billion RUB). However, Lukatsky caveat that this is a very rough indicator, since it is not clear what is considered an object of information security.

For comparison, total revenue of MTS in 2016 was equal to 435,7 billion. However, the main revenue for MTS lines of business stopped growing. In 2016, revenue from mobile services in Russia decreased by 0.4% and fixed communications — 0.8%. The operator is looking for new sources of income. Thus, according to the PwC study, in 2016, the number of incidents related to cyber security in Russia grew by 18%. Because of the negative economic factors, the volume of investments of Russian companies in the field of cybersecurity has decreased, but the demand for outsourcing of information security services grows, said Director of Department of analysis and control of risks PwC Roman Chaplygin.

Companies engaged in information security, in General, neutral react to the possibility of the emergence of a new player. Marketing Director Solar JSOC Valentin Krokhin noted that in international practice, telecommunications companies are among the most powerful players in the market MSSP (Managed Security Service Providers, when Telecom operators or major IT players sell to other companies various services on information security). “This is facilitated by the presence of internal processes for the provision of services and extensive client base. MTS has also a substantial advantage due to the existing technological infrastructure of the SOC, one of the most Mature in Russia”, — said Krokhin. For the Russian market and customers the emergence of another strong commercial SOC will benefit, he said. “This will allow more companies to obtain expertise on information security high-level that they are not always available, as highly qualified experts in the market not so much and not every company, especially in the segment of small and medium businesses can afford them” — agrees the Manager of business development, “Kaspersky Lab” Cyril, Kirzenbaum. He points out that now such services in Russia has a limited number of companies and increased competition may lead to lower prices and improve the quality of services.

The Deputy Director of the center of competence for expert services with Positive Technologies Alexey Novikov noted that, despite the fact that the SOC outsourcing market in Russia is in its infancy, it has already started to adjust, but the monitoring services information security will become a licensed activity. “Any company has a chance to take a share of the market, provided that they possess the necessary technological maturity level and a staff of highly qualified experts,” he said.

At the end of last year, the government submitted to the state Duma a package of amendments relating to critical information infrastructure. Referred to in the draft was about the infrastructure used by government agencies in the defense, fuel, nuclear, aerospace, mining, metallurgy and chemical industry, and also in the field of health, transport, communications, financial sector, energy sector. It was proposed to introduce criminal responsibility with the possibility of imprisonment for up to ten years for actions carrying the threat of such infrastructure. As suggested by some members of the Russian Union of Industrialists and entrepreneurs (RSPP), the criminal liability can threaten managers of companies owning or using a critical infrastructure in the event of a hacker attack. “It seems to me excessive criminal liability of heads of businesses. I and my colleagues, this initiative raises concerns”, — said General Director of “MegaFon” Sergey Soldatenkov.

The MTS in the case of the bill may incur “significant costs of compliance and also to deal with the need to meet the increased security requirements of network and communication channels”, the company warned in the report for the fourth quarter of 2016. The bill on 27 January was adopted in the first reading, second reading date is not appointed yet.

About the reasons of entering a new market and the objectives pursued by the company, the President of MTS Andrei Dubovskov said in an interview with RBC

Andrei Dubovskov

Photo: Vladislav Shatilo / RBC

— Why the MTS has decided to move to a new, unusual for the market?

We have long understood that unusual for us markets not so much. All that lies in communications and cybersecurity, of course, refers to her, is to us of our markets. But the topic of cybersecurity may not arise from scratch. It is important accumulated years and decades of information continuity, stable developing for a long period of competence — like the provision of appropriate business management processes and the professional competence of a huge number of specialists. Important learning processes, including the engine, the previous accumulated years of experience, including reflection attacks, processing systems of big data, the mechanisms of interaction with users and so on. We like the number one player in the market, possess all of these competencies and qualities. For us, rather, the question is how deeply we are integrated into other “non-communications” sphere our clients to understand the nuances of their existence and business principles, in order to seamlessly integrate our skills in the field of information protection in the bloodstream of their business.

— With whom you will compete? Why customers should prefer you to other players?

Is an extremely important resource component in all senses of the word. We are not a classical operator, which we often see customers, the regulator and players from other industries. By and large we are largely a software company (a software manufacturer. — RBC). We employ thousands of programmers, system architects, analysts, testers, etc. We are the only company in our landscape, who develops and supports the bulk of that whole software needed to run your own business. And, importantly, we aim to be a software company. To be just a telecommunications company — it is archaic, this model died. Yes, we continue to earn the lion’s share of the proceeds due to her, but neither long-term nor in the medium not think themselves the only Telecom player. Our strength and experience as a software company that has proven their competence, is the answer to the question why will choose us.

— Do you expect that information security will generate a significant share of the revenue?

— Now about 20% of our income we get is not from services classic Telecom and retail, and other services: mobile applications, IoT (the Internet of things. — RBC), cloud, system integration. How soon it will become the main source of income, I would refrain from the forecast. But the challenge to increase nedelkovska revenues costs and our investment in other areas will increase.

— Who are you going to sell new services?

— Primarily to existing customers, because, among other things, we are leaders in the b2b segment. Next — we are sure that can be interesting to the largest industrial enterprises, industrial holdings. Many, creating such a function from scratch, failed. The functional quality does not compare with what we can offer.

— I wonder whether the public sector?

Yes. Are you going to participate in all tenders and hope for success. The last major hacking WannaCry that affected many departments and companies, including some of our colleagues in the market, showed that MTS successfully cope with such challenges that those 400 billion rubles of investments that we made over the last five years and tens of billions of which went to the maintenance of our IT component, MTS transformed itself into a full-fledged software company — one of the largest on the territory of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

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