Protecting revenue – and reputation – from telecoms fraud

Written by on July 28, 2016 in Guest Blog with 0 Comments

Indentity leakTelecoms fraud is still the bane of the industry and is showing no signs of slowing down. Costing the industry billions of euros each year worldwide, roaming fraud has joined the list of the latest targets for criminals.

The prevention of fraud has become one of the biggest challenges facing wireless operators of all sizes. Opportunistic criminals have become increasingly sophisticated with their attacks; identifying and striking at the vulnerable areas of networks with alarming regularity.

Roaming fraud has become a popular target for criminals alongside traditional, well-known fraud schemes. These include:

  • International Revenue Share Fraud (one of the most damaging and difficult to prevent fraud types that use artificially inflated traffic to premium numbers)
  • PBX hacking (a fraud access method where hackers target Private Branch Exchanges and make a high volume of calls to premium rate or overseas numbers)
  • Wangiri (where end-users are duped into calling premium rate numbers from automated missed calls or spam SMS messages)
  • SIM card cloning (another fraud access method using stolen account details to create a duplicate SIM which is then activated on a new mobile device. The original account is then wiped before the victim realises)

In many ways the move to all-IP networks has transformed the industry for the better, but unfortunately it is also enabling hackers to increase their efficiency. Being able to exploit operators at accelerated speeds has meant an ill-prepared service provider can lose hundreds of thousands of euros in a single weekend-long attack.

Operators have also found that as roaming related attacks take longer to identify than the traditional methods, this can result in huge amounts of criminal traffic passing through the network, causing significant revenue loss and service disruption.

In the highly competitive telecoms market, fraud not only erodes revenue but also delicate customer relationships. As soon as a service suffers disruption, the relationship with the operator falls into jeopardy. The customer experiencing service quality degradation not only loses service quality, but also trust. With customer acquisition and retention a major challenge to all players across the industry, the threat of fraud casts a dark shadow across service providers.

Fraud prevention has therefore become a pressing concern for operators. By collaborating with peers, information of fraudulent attacks can be shared and provide information to prevent similar incidents elsewhere in the world. This proactive method of protection relies on operators using crowdsourcing platforms to record vulnerabilities around the globe. As operators have often had difficulty in detecting fraud, and as they have traditionally been reluctant to admit their vulnerabilities for fear of increasing customer churn, many events still go unnoticed. Crowdsourcing platforms are therefore the remedy to such limitations

Once operators have shared details of fraudulent attacks, crowdsourcing fraud prevention platforms can be utilised to collate information and arm the whole industry in their fight against fraud. By blacklisting numbers and monitoring for related traffic to detect similar patterns elsewhere, these platforms assist operators like no other solution. Once identified, illegal activity can then either be blocked by the carrier’s wholesale provider or through a firewall located in its own infrastructure.

Although fraud has been causing misery among the operators, there is now a light at the end of the tunnel. Working together is often a solution for companies facing disruptive entities, so this proven collaborative move might be the answer for operators fighting fraud.

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Katia González

About the Author

About the Author: Katia is Head of Fraud Operations and Services at BICS, a leading global wholesale carrier in the Telecom industry. With more than 11 years of experience in the Mobile and Wholesale Telecom industry, Katia also chairs the i3 Forum Fraud WorkStream, which brings together the communications expertise of more than 50 telecommunication providers, representing a combined retail base of over 1.5 billion customers across 100+ countries. .

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