With a focus towards maximizing revenue potential for operators, iAcuity Telco is designing and deploying innovative solutions that are helping telecoms to reduce fraud and eliminate leakages.
Ajay Batheja, Managing Director, iAcuity Telco speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com on frauds that are currently afflicting telecom operators and how is iAcuity is enabling innovation-led solutions to address this scenario.
The telecom industry has witnessed massive growth in the subscriber base in the past couple of years. What are telecom frauds and what are the different types of telecom frauds that are occurring as the industry continues to grow? Can you also highlight the intensity of these frauds?
As the telecom industry expands, it has also witnessed a significant rise in various types of fraud. The telecom frauds are designed to take advantage of telecommunications products and services in order to gain a competitive edge over telecommunications companies through deception (fraudulent practises) or strategic attacks. Fraudsters can infiltrate mobile systems by using the customer’s network or the telecommunications service provider. Once fraudsters have gained access, they have a number of options for causing damage and leaving the customer with a hefty bill.
Some of the most common types of telecom related frauds are subscription fraud where someone uses another person’s identity to obtain telecom services without their knowledge or consent. Another is international revenue share fraud (IRSF), in this type of fraud, fraudsters exploit the international revenue-sharing agreements between telecom companies to generate revenue for themselves. Then there is premium rate service (PRS) fraud, a type of fraud in which fraudsters manipulate the PRS system to generate fraudulent charges for premium-rate services. Call forwarding fraud happens when fraudsters hack into an individual’s call forwarding settings to forward all incoming calls to their own number, and roaming fraud occurs when fraudsters manipulate roaming agreements between telecom companies to generate revenue for themselves.
The intensity of these frauds vary depending on the type of fraud and the region. Some of these frauds can cause significant financial losses to both the telecom company and the customers.
What are the most common frauds that are currently afflicting telecom operators and customers, based on the frauds you mentioned above?
The telecom-related fraud has caused problems for both operators and customers who use the services. A few telecom frauds afflicting the telecom operators are international revenue share fraud (IRSF), SIM card cloning, interconnect fraud, bypass fraud, wangiri fraud, equipment fraud, employee fraud, roaming fraud, fraudulent reselling of SIM cards or devices.
The topmost fraud in terms of highest loss incurred in 2021 was International Revenue Share Fraud (IRSF) which accounted for over $6.69 Bn followed by Traffic Pumping (Domestic Revenue Share, Toll Free) and Arbitrage accounting for about $4.54 Bn and $3.82 Bn respectively.
Some of the most common frauds affecting customers are phishing scams, Sim swapping fraud, billing fraud, premium rate service fraud, SMS fraud, unsolicited content services, mobile malware & ransomware attacks, fake mobile app & mobile app fraud, and SMS phishing scams. According to the latest estimates by Tanla Platforms, approximately 30 crore people in India are vulnerable to phishing attacks, with 5 lakh potentially being scammed.
5G has been a game changer for users in terms of customer experience with reliable connectivity, low latency, and high bandwidth. With the 5G rollouts finally accelerating in India, what are your thoughts on how the frauds will impact the telcos?
5G will bring new possibilities for fraudsters to exploit vulnerabilities in the networks. With the increased data transfer speeds and low latency of 5G networks, cybercriminals may target the network to launch attacks such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), phishing, and malware attacks. Several IoT devices may be compromised, allowing hackers to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data or control the devices remotely.
Criminals may set up rogue cell sites to intercept and capture user data, leading to data breaches and privacy violations. With the rollout of 5G, there is a high possibility of fraudsters cloning legitimate IoT devices to gain access to the network and launch attacks or steal sensitive data. IoT devices may be compromised and used to create a botnet that can launch DDoS attacks on the network or other targets.
How do you collaborate with communication service providers (CSPs) and other institutions and how do your products function in accordance with this? Tell us about the types of clients you primarily work with.
We empower CSPs for their 5G and legacy network to comply with lawful interception regulations, maximize revenue, reduce fraud, improve their operational efficiency, and provide secure SD-WAN networks. Our end customers are CSPs and ISPs. At iAcuity Telco, we provide a range of products such as iLIS, which is a powerful tool for lawful interception system for 5G SA(Standalone), NSA(Non-Standalone) and private networks. There is iIPLogger which helps CSPs to explore the depths of IP Logs with enhanced security and improved intelligence. There are other solutions such as iSDConnect is a secured SD-WAN connectivity solution, iRoamAssure, a roaming fraud and revenue assurance solution, iRevAssure an automated revenue assurance solution. iFraudPrevent a convergent fraud management solution.
We primarily partner with System Integrators like Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL), IBM, Tech Mahindra, and Network Equipment Providers like Nokia, Ericsson, ZTE, and Huawei) to bid our products/solutions for tenders by CSPs and ISPs.
The MWC Barcelona 2023 recently featured a plethora of innovations from companies all over the world. What have been the most significant learnings for your company in terms of evolving market trends, as you were also a part of it?
The 5G market is expected to grow significantly over the next few years, driven by increased adoption of 5G-enabled devices, expansion of use cases, and new technological developments like network slicing, cloud-native architecture, 5G-enabled devices, etc. Use cases for machine-to-machine interactions, telemedicine, and tele-education are all in the early stages of deployment. With the upcoming expansion of 5G deployment, coupled with a plethora of use cases being introduced, there are significant opportunities for our company for meeting compliance requirements, revenue maximization and identifying/preventing frauds.