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MEF Advisor Ross Flynn share an overview from a recent webinar with guests from Vox Solutions discussing Fraud in the mobile ecosystem.

It doesn’t matter where you are in the value chain, when fraudsters strike it hurts everybody’s pockets. This was the key takeaway from Vox Solution’s recent MEF webinar all about anti-fraud. Two particularly nasty types of fraud have been emerging over the past few months that, when working in conjunction, become greater than the sum of their parts. These are SMS Trashing and Artificial Traffic Generation.

As one of our speakers, Teodor Magureanu (Chief of Staff – Vox Carrier) put it: “We see increased activity from fraudulent players, which now combine multiple mechanisms to hijack an even higher share of the revenues meant to reach MNOs.”. But how does it work?

When the two frauds are combined, it becomes possible to trash SMS traffic at an exponentially higher rate. Used in tandem it allows bad players to directly influence the conversion rates of OTPs. It gives the power to fraudsters to trash more messages than before. It hurts everyone. OTTs are hurt because of the additional costs from generating fake traffic, MNOs are hurt because of the legitimate traffic that is sent which is partly trashed and if other aggregators are included in routing, then they are hurt because their conversion rates are artificially brought down.

What is the solution to this problem? Another one of the speakers surmised that “To stay competitive in market and provide the best service, you need top notch solutions to protect your network.” – Atai Talantbek (Roaming Technical Team – Sky Mobile Beeline). To solve a multifaceted problem, you need a multifaceted solution, or to solve an issue that is attacking on multiple fronts you need multiple solutions. The first step is awareness, awareness, awareness. We as an industry can’t begin to address this issue if we fail to see its existence. That’s where organisations like MEF can step in and really bring this to the attention of everyone along the value chain, through webinars, white papers and more.

The next step is to work with the good actors to flush out the bad actors. If this is everyone’s problem, there is absolutely no reason to not work together to solve it. Fraudsters thrive in the black box areas that everyone only has partial view into, so connecting these dots will be key.

Machine learning will also be key in order to comb through the sheer volume of messages that go out. That’s why Vox Solutions is deploying its anti-fraud solution, VOX360, which uses proprietary machine-learning algorithms to detect fraud in real time. Ehsan Ahmadi, the CEO and founder of VOX Solutions summed it up by saying “With emerging fraud types and challenges such as flash calling ahead, MNOs must partner with the appropriate technology provider to protect revenues”.

It’s also key that all firewalls that are used cover the full omnichannel, just having a firewall that covers one of the channels is not enough. It’s clear that working closely alongside OTTs will be key as well. It is absolutely imperative that we as an industry deliver a more holistic approach to anti-fraud.

Ross Flynn

Advisor, MEF