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Let’s Step Up the Fight Against Voice Fraud

By Christian Michaud, Senior Vice President, Product & Business Strategy at Tata Communications

Cybercrime hurts the entire technology and telecoms ecosystem, from service providers to end users. No part of our industry is immune to it. For example, anything that is connected to the Internet can become a potential target of attack for cybercriminals. And – as the number of connected devices is set to reach over 20 billion by 2020 – the fight against cybercrime will be crucial for the long-term success of everyone with a stake in the Internet of Things (IoT).

When criminals use global communications networks to commit fraud, steal or intentionally disrupt services, there are direct monetary losses that are compounded by lasting damage to relationships. Cyber-attacks lead to end users losing faith in applications, devices and services, while we in the carrier ecosystem lose the trust of our partners.

While new innovations like the IoT shape our future, we still need to solve security challenges in more established and ubiquitous services like voice. There are over 5 billion unique mobile phone subscribers globally, according to the GSMA, and just like in IoT, each one of these subscribers and their devices can be used for voice fraud. Voice fraud occurs when voice services are used to illegally to acquire funds from a service provider through things like PBX hacking, False Answer Supervision (FAS) and a whole range of other fraudulent activities.

Service providers lose more than $38.1 billion from voice fraud annually, according to the Communications Fraud Control Agency (CFCA). In a voice market where margins are declining, any loss from fraud is too much. Service providers have to take action or face potentially going out of business. It is that important.

I see three critical elements to today’s fight against voice fraud:

  1. Platform-based approach – Service providers should be looking at the big picture and building fraud solutions into their voice platforms. Voice fraud identification and mitigation shouldn’t be a bolt-on solution. It should be a fully integrated part of every voice service that a service provider delivers. Service providers should recognise that voice fraud identification and mitigation is now core to a successful voice offering and ensure that their platform is ready to fight voice fraud 24/7/365.
  2. Moving in real-time – Service providers have to fight voice fraud in real-time. The days of checking Call Data Records (CDR) and looking at bills months after a voice fraud has occurred are over. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are enabling service providers to act immediately to stop voice fraud as it happens, and use historic data to maintain an optimised networking environment. AI accelerates decision making, which reduces the scale of voice fraud losses, and can adapt to a changing threat. AI and machine learning provides a fluid foundation for fighting voice fraud and evolving to combat cybercrime.
  3. Collaboration and partnerships – Voice fraud has a negative impact on our whole ecosystem and that is why we have to work together to fight it. Everyone benefits when working together, and no one service provider can go it alone against a constantly changing threat. Service providers should choose partners that share the same commitment to fight voice fraud and get active in industry forums like the i3forum. The more you learn about voice fraud and participate in the wider conversations around fraud and cybercrime, the better off you’ll be.

Voice fraud will never go away entirely but we can limit its impact on our businesses, partners, customers and end users. We can build trust across the ecosystem by taking action and putting these strategies into practice. Cybercrime is a constantly evolving threat that demands a new approach. Criminals are innovating to continue to profit from it and we have to innovate and go beyond the status quo to protect and grow our businesses.

Cross-industry collaboration in platforms like the i3forum is crucial in the fight against fraud. I believe that by joining forces, we can create a healthy, sustainable and secure voice market.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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