Axial Systems has announced that two of the UK’s Mobile Service Providers (MSPs) are trialling Axial’s IP Address Correlation Engine.
The interest of MSPs in the Axial solution has been driven by the progress of the Government’s Investigatory Powers Bill through Parliament. Once it is passed, the assistance of MSPs may frequently be required in order to obtain communications data relating to a person’s use of a particular service or to intercept communications to or from that service.
Having rapid access to key communications detail is critically important to fighting terrorism and other types of serious crime. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to attain. As Mike Simmonds, Managing Director, Axial Systems, explains: “One of the biggest obstacles is the need to identify in real time who used a particular Internet Protocol (IP) Address, and where and when they used it.
“It is a capability that Communication Services Providers (CSPs) and MSPs, in particular, will need to be ready to provide as the Investigatory Powers Bill moves through Parliament,” he adds, “but no one technology provider has previously been able to deliver it in a practical, easy-to-use system. That’s until, in conjunction with a select group of solution providers, we utilised a combination of technologies and created the IP Address Correlation Engine which delivers the required single point of truth.
“Axial is ideally placed to develop and deploy this kind of innovative technology.” continues Simmonds, “because we have an in-depth understanding of, and expertise in, both security and networks.”
Simmonds adds: “It’s important to note we don’t record the high-level communication as a whole. Instead, we record it at the lowest possible level, closely monitoring the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)/IP session and correlating each connection based on the content of the session. Why do we do that? Because it is the most definitive source of truth available and does not reply on “feeds” from other, possibly debatable quality, sources. This element is key to the integrity of the detail provided by the solution.
“We are not relying on anyone else giving us data upon which we base our IPAR intelligence. Instead, we completely correlate all of this internally – and that means we can produce a record that says, for example: – this IP address was used by this device at this time and sent and received this much data – exactly what is required by the Investigatory Powers Bill.”
Using information held by every MSP, such as the unique identifier for a particular handset and the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, perhaps together with information about where and when the phone was purchased, it’s possible for the IP Correlation Engine to start to build a detailed picture of communications activity around a particular crime.
According to Simmonds, “for example, in the aftermath of a major incident, it would be possible to access the product and establish, who visited a certain website at 2 o’clock in the afternoon last Tuesday from a mobile device on a specific carrier’s network – and also provide information that would help determine the location of the individual at that precise point in time.”
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