Message from a bank or delivery service: Why is it so difficult to deal with phone fraud?

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Most of us have given up answering a telephone call from an unknown number for fear that it might be a hoax.

And now when we get a text message, we get scared, a message that is allegedly from our bank or from an alleged delivery firm … All we fear is that it will be a fraud.

A recent report suggests that we are justified in taking precautions in this regard.

In the last 12 months, the incidence of fraud through phone calls and text messages in England, Wales and Northern Ireland alone has increased by 83% over the previous year.

These statistics has been released by a consumer group. The group has analyzed data on fraud and cybercrime in the UK. He says that in all respects these are big attacks of fraud.

Fraudulent delivery messages have also increased as many of us now shop more online.

The group added in its report that the increase in fraud was also due to the fact that most people started shopping online during Corona. That’s why people started getting fake parcel delivery service messages.

The fraudsters in these attacks actually send a message to anyone with a seemingly legally correct number, claiming that a small payment is required for the delivery of a package. And when the recipient of the message clicks on the link sent, the fraudsters try to steal his bank information.

But the question is how fraudsters do all this and why it is becoming so difficult for telecom firms and their officials to deal with this problem.

Matthew Greben is a cybersecurity expert. He says persistent vulnerabilities in telephone networks in the UK and other countries have made it possible for criminals to see the number from which the call is sent and the message sent. Thinks this is the real number of the bank or delivery firm.

Greben, a former adviser to the British intelligence agency GCHQ, says you can’t guarantee for a network 100%, it’s the phone number that appears on the  screen belongs to that network.

The root of the problem lies in the method of identifying the phone, called ‘SS Seven’, which has been in operation since 1975. This system is a bit complicated.

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The SS7 system tells the phone network whether the number from which the user is calling or sending the message is genuine or presentable. And the problem here is that the fraudsters associate the presentation number (the visible number) and the link with their number.

And this problem affects our landline and mobile phones. SS Seven is still centrally connected to 2G and 3G phone networks, even with phones that can be connected to 5G.

One theory is that these vulnerabilities in SS Seven cannot be fixed because to fix them, telecom firms will have to give national security agencies access to their networks.

Matthew Greben says the British intelligence agency can monitor communications without using SS Seven.

Text messages are sent using the old technology

He says the problem is that SS Seven is still used by telecom companies around the world and should be replaced with another system instead of trying to solve the problem.

Katia Gonzalez heads a telecom firm in Brussels to prevent fraud. He says the SS Seven was created with the idea that it would always be legal and well used.

Also, there is a lot of reliance on this technology and we can’t get away with it. It will now be part of the 2G and 3G networks for another ten years.

John Frances is involved in industrial security in Jasma. It is a commercial organization that translates mobile networks around the world. He says that by the time the 5G network is fully exposed, the SS Seven and 2G 3G will be completely replaced.

Ms. Gonzalez says it will take some time to understand these flaws and how they are being misused.

But Greben is still cautious. He says that when the SS Seven is replaced with something completely new, there is still a danger that fraudsters may exploit it.

Jasma says telecom firms are putting a lot of effort and money into preventing fraud and deception.

BICS is also using artificial intelligence to block fraudulent calls and messages.

Gonzalez says the only way to block text messages is to enable telecom firms to use artificial intelligence so that they can scan for fake websites before messages are sent. But privacy regulators are unlikely to agree.

BICS is now demanding that there should be better relations between telecom firms and governments and that companies should exchange more information in view of the current difficulties.

In recent years, fraudulent telephone calls to robot calling have increased significantly. A call is a call that is automatically received by a computer and then a pre-recorded message is played.

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There is also a system to know if the call is genuine and this can help prevent fake calls. The UK’s telecommunications regulator of work says it is liaising with the telecom industry to see what can be done and how quickly.

A spokesman for Offcom says these criminal schemes are becoming more attractive and more efforts are needed to deal with them.

“We are working with the police, industry and institutions, for example the National Cyber ​​Security Center,” he says. National Cyber ​​Security is the UK’s leading cyber security agency.

Now an international standard organization, known in the United States as the Internet Engineering Task Force, has developed new protocols to help avoid computer-generated robot calls.


Katia Gonzalez says SS Seven will stay here for another decade

US officials have asked mobile operators to implement the protocols by the end of 2021, but Offcom says service providers in the UK will not be able to do so until 2025.

Amanda Finch is the Chief Executive at the Chartered Institute of Information Security. He says phone and text fraud is not going to end so quickly.

He said that telecom firms can take a lot in this regard. However, he also said that security is a constant target and basically everyone needs to be vigilant.

Robert Bloomov, chief technology officer at cloud security firm Akamai, says he doesn’t think we can train people in the world so quickly that they don’t become fools. Therefore, the solution to this problem should include the method of blocking the response to messages that are bothering you.

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