Each year ENISA publishes a report summarising the major telecom security incidents that occurred in the previous year. Its latest report is now available and records details of 169 incidents that happened in 2017.
Almost a fifth of the reported incidents (17 percent) were caused by natural phenomena, such as heavy snow, ice, storms and wildfires. This is significantly higher than the previous 3 years, when natural phenomena accounted for only 5 percent of the incidents. Natural phenomena will continue to be a concern for telecom providers across the EU, with extreme weather becoming more common due to climate change.
62 percent of the telecom security incidents in 2017 were system failures, such as hardware failures, software bugs or faulty software updates. In all years prior to reporting, system failures accounted for 60 percent to 80 percent of total incidents.
More than half of the incidents reported have an impact on mobile telephony and internet in the EU. This confirms the shift of the last years. Fixed telephony was the most affected service only in the early years of reporting.
With 22 percent of incidents due to power cuts, dependency of telecoms on the power grid is clear. A common scenario starts with a storm or wildfire which causes a power cut, and leads to a mobile network outage soon after.
Only a small 2 percent of the incidents were due to malicious actions, such as denial of service attacks and cable theft. The year before, this was at 5 percent. The multi-year trend for malicious actions has been below 10 percent.
While the number of incidents reported has steadily increased over the years, from 76 in 2012 to 169 in 2017, the size of the incidents has reduced on average. This is due to a combination of telecom providers reporting smaller incidents and NRAs using lower breach reporting thresholds.