FICORA calls for a single information security level for mobile network in the Nordic countries

Published 12.01.2016 | Updated 21.01.2016

The Nordic communications regulators have issued their first joint recommendation for improving mobile network security. The purpose of the recommendation is to improve the security of the partly outdated technical implementation of a so called SS7 signalling system. FICORA has had a key role in initiating the project and preparing the recommendation.

In recent years, several possibilities for abusing the SS7 signalling in mobile communications have emerged. The signalling enables, for instance, the forwarding of calls and other messages within a telecommunications operator's network and between the networks of different telecommunications operators. The systems were developed in the 1970s and 1980s and due to their long life cycle, there are some security vulnerabilities. The risk of abuse originally relates to the abuse of an operational model based on mutual trust in a closed network between telecommunications operators.

Towards a single information security level in the Nordic countries

The Nordic communications regulators have now given telecommunications operators a joint Nordic recommendation, the first of its kind, to prevent the risk of abuse in SS7 signalling. "The purpose of a joint recommendation is to ensure a harmonised and sufficient information security level in all Nordic countries. Furthermore, common principles make it easier for companies to operate in several Nordic countries and simplify communications between telecommunications operators and device manufacturers as the requirements for telecommunications operators are based on the same recommendation in all of the countries", explains Jarkko Saarimäki, Director of the National Cyber Security Centre at FICORA.

Some suspected cases of abuse have also arisen in Finland. Finland and the other Nordic countries are global leaders in electronic communications and therefore, communication security is a top priority.

Mobile phones may be used for normal communication

Mobile services may safely be used for normal communication. However, as FICORA has advised for several years, confidential issues should not communicated over the mobile network because of security threats related to the network.

Different encryption solutions improve communications security. Read more about protecting communications:

Guidelines for protecting communications

Tips for using a mobile phone safely (in Finnish)

Encryption solutions approved by NCSA (in Finnish) [pdf, 205 KB]

Further information:

Hanna Heiskanen, Legal Counsel, tel. +358 295 390 643

Tomi Kinnari, Information Security Adviser, tel. +358 295 390 533 (as from 13 January)

Key words: Information security , Cyber security , Mobile phone , Recommendations , News

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