How does C Spire handle the growing need for network security in rural broadband deployments?

C Spire’s Chief Information Security Officer: “Security needs to be aware of where the business is going”

For a long time, increasing network availability and speed has dominated the conversation about rural broadband; these aspects continue to be part of the ongoing debate around the pending $1 trillion infrastructure bill. However, as said by Terry Young, Marketing Director of 5G Products and Service Providers of A10 Network Wireless CPR News, another crucial part of the conversation is network security. Rural sites – hospitals, schools, banks, etc. – are often considered more vulnerable to cyberattacks, including DDoS attacks, simply because they are more critical to local communities, but less monitored due to fewer security resources.

“If you look at the industry as a whole, network speed is becoming less and less of a key part of the value proposition,” Young explained, adding that going forward, subscribers will be less concerned about to have the fastest network and instead focus on the security features that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) can offer.

C Spire’s Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer, Conrad Bell, agreed that there was a growing awareness of the importance of network security, particularly in the wake of hacks and recent and high-profile data breaches such as the Colonial Pipeline incident of May 2021, which temporarily halted distribution. of petroleum products along the east coast.

C Spire’s Approach to Rural Broadband Security

“Our approach to security changes daily,” Bell explained. “We look at these different attacks and make sure we’re not sensitive to the methods used and if we find any gaps we fill them in because we don’t want to be next.”

Founded as a wireless company in 1988 under the name Cellular South, C Spire primarily provides broadband service throughout most of Mississippi and parts of Tennessee and Alabama, making it an expert in connecting rural communities.

How C Spire handles rural broadband security, in particular, Bell said, depends on the situation, because more important than the technology used to connect rural networks, he said, is the type of data circulating on the network.

He further explained: “When it comes to broadband, we are only talking about transport. There’s nothing increasing from a vulnerability standpoint, so the approach depends on how we use that broadband connection. Each site can have its own unique threat level, so our approach is determined by how we actually connect each site to the network. For example, a typical site, connected through our core, will already have DDoS and other basic security features, but if it’s a business with more sensitive data, we’ll sell additional security services. , such as managed firewalls.

Hackers are relentless, and Bell said security needs to change as their tactics change, adding that as the industry moves to a cloud environment and the workforce becomes more remote, C Spire will is focused on evolving its approach to security while keeping the business larger. Goals.

“As CIO, I attend all line of business meetings, brief the board monthly, and attend senior management meetings twice a week,” he said. . “It’s not because I’m talking about security; it’s because security needs to know where the business is going.

Kevin M. Risinger