By Katia Gonzalez Gutierrez, head of fraud operations, BICS
The prevention of telecoms fraud is still one of the most pertinent challenges facing the industry with hundreds of billions of Euros in revenue lost to opportunistic criminals annually. The problem is a truly international one, with operators around the world facing increasingly sophisticated attacks alongside traditional methods which remain prevalent in many markets.
The majority of telecoms fraud is still based around voice services such as International Revenue Share Fraud (IRSF) and Wangiri. IRSF sees criminals establish international numbers and use a variety of methods – including PBX hacking, SIM card cloning, international roaming fraud and subscription theft – to artificially inflate traffic to these numbers.
Wangiri is another common fraud, which is often part of IRSF, and sees customers persuaded to call premium rate numbers after receiving an automated missed call or being spammed by SMS. Wangiri cases related to OTT services are now also coming to the fore.
SMS fraud is also a growing issue, led by the increasing popularity of Application to Person messaging. The most established of these, SMS Bypass, uses insecure grey routes to avoid termination fees.
Although voice and SMS-based attacks are still common, the migration to all-IP infrastructure has led to increasingly sophisticated versions of existing fraud types being developed alongside completely new threats taking advantage of new technology.
Knowledge is power
Here, knowledge is power. The most common issue raised by operators is related to their inability to accurately detect and report attacks on their networks – negatively impacting revenues and holding back their ability to innovate.
Various international bodies have been set up to investigate the problem, including the i3forum and the GSMA’s Fraud and Security Group, and specialist fraud streams have now been included in the programme of many major industry events.
Together with crowdsourcing solutions that relay information across the world to proactively alert other operators of current threats, the whole industry is now taking vital steps to safeguard against this revenue erosion.
Once criminal activity has been detected, operators have a number of ways to deal with it. Some immediately block the fraudulent number while others blacklist it and monitor for related traffic to detect similar trends elsewhere on the network. By sharing information, the number can then either be blocked by the carrier’s wholesale provider or through a firewall located in its own infrastructure.
Facing the threat
Key to tackling this threat is the ability to act proactively rather than being reactive following an attack. As with any criminal activity, protecting from the initial threat is much more cost effective than post-attack measures deployed in an attempt to repair damage and recoup lost revenue.
Fraud prevention is a huge issue and proactive measures such as cloud-based, real time crowdsourcing solutions are a vital tool in any operator’s arsenal. Many operators are now utilising a range of modern tools to protect themselves and, here at BICS, we are now hearing an increasing number of success stories about how operators have adopted robust, proactive solutions to confront fraudulent activity and revenue loss head on.
BICS delivers best-in-class international wholesale solutions to any communication service provider worldwide.