Future-Proof Countermeasures Critical for Industry

A member of one of the world’s largest mobile network groups has commissioned a solution from Telsis that blocks all non-operator over the air (OTA) commands. The 1 million Euro deployment of SMS SafeGuard comes after an industry-wide warning by a security expert that as many as one in eight phone SIMs is open to an OTA malware attack that enables host phones to be remotely controlled, and calls and messages to be intercepted.

Karsten Nohl revealed that some older types of SIM cards are vulnerable to malware implanted by fraudulent OTA configuration messages. While many operators are believed to be pinning hopes on a software patch becoming available for the affected SIMs, the Telsis customer has opted for a once-and-for-all approach to protect its subscribers, and its own reputation, against OTA malware.

When the security breach was revealed, Telsis urged networks to think long-term. Telsis director of products Nigel Shaw said: “This is not about a single type of SIM. It’s about the wider issue of malware, and we believe that a strategy of patching weaknesses as and when they are found is always going to leave mobile network operators playing catch-up.

“Even though our customer has none of the affected SIMs, by deploying Telsis SMS SafeGuard it has ensured the only OTA commands that can transit its network and reach handsets are those that it itself sends. The operator has protected its network and its subscribers against OTA malware attacks for good.”

The Telsis solution defeats malware, spam and phishing while at the same time boosting operators’ bottom lines by blocking grey messaging that deprives them of legitimate revenues. It does so by working at the transport layer of the network, determining the actual, rather than apparent source of inbound messages, so that spam, malware, and attempts to avoid paying termination charges for bulk messaging are rejected.

At the 2013 Global Messaging Congress in June, Telsis argued that transport layer protection such as that provided by SMS SafeGuard is essential if operators are to capitalise on the predicted global growth in A2P messaging.

“Confidence is everything,” says Shaw. “Our customer’s subscribers are now in a select group of phone users, but as more operators roll out SMS SafeGuard the protected community will grow. We think it will be these operators who stand to gain most from the growth in A2P messaging because their subscribers and their corporate customers will know they can trust the network not to deliver malware to their phones and not to allow spammers and other fraudsters to prey on them. With confidence will come usage and with usage will come revenue growth.

“Operators that fail to take active steps to properly secure their networks will miss out in three ways. They will lose profitability through fraud, lose the trust and business of organisations that want to use A2P messaging, and they will lose subscribers who will move to networks that offer better protection from spam messaging.”

Telsis SMS SafeGuard sits alongside existing SMS network infrastructure, leaving existing billing and CRM systems untouched and ensuring rapid service deployment and protection.

The Telsis mission is to enrich people’s lives through innovations in communications technology and services. For 25 years, Telsis has provided tier-1 network operators with flexible infrastructure and compelling services in voice, text and video. From TDM, through IP-based networks to IMS and LTE, Telsis provides evolutionary solutions to match customers’ network developments and enable the provision of advanced services today.

Telsis’ portfolio of services is backed by proven engineering skills, system integration expertise, and a deep understanding of human factors, all of which combine in solutions that enable operators to offer their customers exciting and practical services with compelling real-world appeal.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine
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