Opinion

User management must go the extra mile in network analytics.

Dec 12, 2019

Trust on data intelligence requires robust controls in the process of producing it.

The telecommunications industry makes all the information exchanges that permeate our lives possible. As a result, it transports back and forth sensitive data that must be 100% protected at all times, under strict user management and monitoring policies.

Living up to that heightened responsibility is a tall order for Communications Service Providers (CSPs, or simply telcos). On one hand, they need to keep their customers’ data intact by limiting and controlling who can have access to it; on the other hand, that often conflicts with their aspirations of achieving a larger digital relevance in their spaces – since data-driven intelligence, built and shared across multi-disciplinary teams, is often a prerequisite for it.

Against this backdrop of conflicting needs, developers of network analytics solutions must step up their privacy protection game. Merging the disciplines of analytics, software, and privacy engineering, they must deploy methodologies, tools and techniques that enable their systems to deliver acceptable levels of privacy for telcos to chase their ambitions responsibly.

Network analytics developers must, ultimately, engineer built-in privacy-preserving mechanisms ensuring that telcos will continue to be trusted as guardians of their clients’ data, even – or especially – while they seek new digital roles for themselves.”

Protecting data privacy requires comprehensive action on multiple fronts. And one of them, which tends to be overlooked, is exactly the implementation of thorough user management and user monitoring controls.

Access control frameworks from network analytics solutions must be configured to match the organisational and data management structure of the telco. Any network analytics platform must be designed with robust, fine-grained access controls, which allow telcos to ensure that their internal users are exposed only to the information that they need to do their jobs – and are lawfully entitled to see.

Beyond providing detailed permission policies, network analytics solutions must also support the reporting and storing of audit trails which can be subsequently tracked for abnormal usage patterns. Telcos must avail the means to make usage log records increasingly more refined. With that, auditors and senior managers can be alerted of, identify and investigate potential misuse of sensitive information, mitigating privacy risks independently from primary users or IT department’s assistance.

Network analytics technology continues to advance, bringing about new opportunities – but also new risks. Its responsible development must proactively combine satisfactory means to seek data impact while controlling potential damages to privacy and data security. Ultimately, it is the network analytics industry’s responsibility to influence and educate its clients, users and employees on the importance of adhering to high ethical standards in leveraging all the data intelligence that it enables.