INTERVIEW with Ioan Constantin, Orange – We’re trying to bring data security into the spotlight by reaching the consumers through awareness campaigns

DefCamp #9 is only months away and it’s powered by Orange Romania. For the last couple of years, Orange has been our main sponsor supporting us to grow awareness over the importance of cybersecurity and is also the Internet provider for the upcoming event.
Throughout its security solutions and educational programs, Orange Romania is proactively involved in making regular users and companies alike more aware of the importance of data security in their lives and the challenges caused by cyber attacks.
The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving and online attacks are getting more complex, and more difficult to be spotted in the first place. There are also security threats that can affect our mobile devices, and we believe mobile operators play an important role in enhancing protection for customers and raising awareness among them.

We wanted to find out how has the data security landscape changed in the past year for Orange Romania and how do they see cyber attacks evolving.

Ioan Constantin, cybersecurity expert at Orange Romania pointed out that they observed an increase in mobile and IoT-targeting threats as several categories of devices are becoming ubiquitous, like wearables, smartphones, connected devices and sensors.
There’s been also a decrease in numbers and frequency of ‘traditional’ threats such as crypto malware infecting users with ransomware.
Today’s advanced technology offers us new ways to make online payments by using virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum or other innovative methods. While they should provide safe online transactions, we’ve seen how they become easily a primary target for malicious actors.
According to a recent security report, cryptojacking attacks have been on the rise in the first half of 2018 and continue to escalate by becoming one of the most popular cyber threats this year.  
The threat landscape remains challenging for the Romanian market too, because “there is an obvious shift towards cryptojacking with high profile incidents happening”, emphasized Ioan.
He also mentioned that money remains the primary motivator for cyber criminals when operating a new attack:

We’re seeing more and more sophisticated actors using complex threats but one thing remains the same as in the previous couple years: their motivation which usually revolves around money.

We were interested in finding out about the challenges of mobile device security, as smartphone became the central part of our lives. It’s also the place where we store a lot of sensitive and important data, so keeping it safe from prying eyes is crucial. Our devices are now more vulnerable and targeted by malicious actors who want to get unauthorized access to steal data and infect them with malware.
Without a doubt, the phone number has become an essential component of our online identities, so it is also important for consumers to get protected against complex threats that involve multiple attack vectors.
This brought us to SIM hijacking, a rather new threat in which hackers can take over users’ phone and steal credentials from their online accounts. We find out from Orange Romania that “the problem with complex threats is that the victim seldomly recognizes the attack as it is developing. SIM hijacking is one such complex threat as most users are reliant on SMS as a second or third factor of authentication on various platforms.”
In terms of security awareness, Orange advises consumers to use other layers of security such as Google Authenticator app or equivalent solutions that don’t rely on SMS as a later-factor of authentication.
We took advantage of this topic and also asked Ioan about the efforts they take into helping data security awareness break out of the confines of the tech industry and reach regular users.
We find out that Orange Romania is very focused on cybersecurity in both business and consumer markets.

“We’re trying to bring data security into the spotlight by reaching the consumers through awareness campaigns in social media and traditional media, by participating in conferences and workshops with dissemination on our knowledge in this area.”

Ioan Constantin also shared details about the company’s Educational Program where students from Politehnica University of Bucharest can enroll, receive scholarships, gain knowledge in courses and hands-on labs with some of Orange experts in areas like IP Networks, Cyber Security, Radio and Cellular Networks. “We’re particularly proud by these young people’s accomplishment as some of them get to become our colleagues at the time they graduate.”
Orange Romania is not only involved in educating the young generation in cyber security best practices, but it’s also a supporter of innovation in cybersecurity through its acceleration program for start-ups, Orange Fab.
This month, the company celebrated the first year of Orange Fab in Romania and we were curious to know what kind of startups they are you looking to support through this accelerator program.

We’re focusing on innovation and improvement. Start-ups where people challenge the way we do things. We’ve seen some breakthrough ideas in the start-ups we accelerate especially in the cyber security area – things like Virtualized secure remote access solution that only ‘streams pixels’ between a user’s business apps and an endpoint or a solution that detects malware in websites using multiple sandboxes, a form of Artificial Intelligence and URI ranking.”  

For those eager to know more details about the benefits of joining this program, we asked Ioan to share with us some key milestones that the startups already enrolled in Orange Fab have reached during the last year.
Here’s what he mentioned:

“We’ve seen great development in areas such as Future of Life, Smart Territories and Cyber Security with startups launching PoCs and Piloting their technologies and products with Orange and several of Orange’s customers. IoT ecosystem products witnessed an increase in interest and focus from both startups and customers with several developments in energy monitoring, agriculture and air quality monitoring stations. Cyber security has been, of course, a point of great interest for Orange Fab with 3 startups enrolled in the past 12 months. We’re looking forward to the next 12 months and we’re optimistic towards the great potential of the technologies and products developed in Orange Fab”.

The interview & editing was made by Ioana Daniela Rijnetu
DefCamp is powered by Orange Romania and it’s organized by the Association “Research Center for Information Security in Romania” (CCSIR).
DefCamp 2018 is sponsored by Ixia, Keysight Business, SecureWorks and Intralinks as Platinum Partners and it’s supported by IPSX, Bit Sentinel, TAD Group, Enevo, Crowdstrike,, Siemens, Alef, UiPath and Kaspersky Lab.

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