Intelligent Solutions

Simwood Fraud Protection on PSTN lines

Simon Woodhead

Simon Woodhead

1st December 2014

So, you’re a successful ITSP who enjoys the benefits of Simwood’s fraud protection – you recognise that preventing margin being lost to fraud greatly outweighs the small gains to be had through throwing your traffic at whoever is offering today’s best rate*. But maybe your business used to be traditional telephony and you have WLR3 lines and possibly a portfolio of PBXs to maintain? We’d like to suggest a simple way you can centralise your traffic and sleep much better at night.

One problem with the “old world” is that it is slow. Invoices come monthly, CDRs come monthly, daily or at best hourly and once a call hits a CDR the damage is done, i.e. it has cost you money. There are none of the real-time call filtering and calls in progress monitoring features that we offer for VoIP calls.

Another issue is where old meets new: that clunky old PBX in the corner previously only connected to the telephone line but as traditional PBX manufacturers have clamoured to catch up it might now be “IP-enabled”, whether you want it or not. As I’ve said at recent fraud talks: that functionality exposes it to attack and isn’t always as securely executed as it could be. One customer found this out last Christmas.

So, you have a new fraud target to worry about, but very limited timely control over it.  You may have made use of the new VoIP capability to send traffic to us, but the device may still be PSTN-connected, perhaps making use of a CPS provider. When we reject a call we believe to be fraudulent, or indeed shut down fraudulent attempts altogether, do they then flow over CPS? If they do how long does it take for you to know about them? With some compromises running at thousands of Pounds per minute, and CPS rates usually higher than VoIP rates, that could be very expensive!

One solution is for Simwood to offer CPS, and we have previously made our wish to do so clear. However, it is hugely expensive to set-up and operate and for us would be a step in the opposite direction to the market. We clearly need a business case and for us that business case comes through the take-up of Indirect Access (IDA). Co-incidentally, IDA also offers a solution to your above problem!

With IDA, a short code prefixed to the call forces that to come into the Simwood network. If you have previously configured that line for IDA using our new portal or the API, we will route it just as if it had come to us over VoIP. You’ll pay our wholesale termination rates plus a slight premium for the IDA leg. Most importantly though, each IDA end-point is considered a trunk on our system. You get itemised CDRs as well as all of the real-time visibility we offer. Furthermore, all of the per trunk fraud controls such as custom ACLs, balances and alerts are there. If we do send you an alert, the IDA end-point is even uniquely identified so you know exactly which site is affected! Remember: this is often before an attack happens or shortly after it starts (dependent on profile) which is immeasurably better than waiting until the month-end bill arrives and wondering why it is £100k too high!

There are two issues with IDA though:

– Firstly, it needs a code to prefix the dialled number and that is completely impractical to enter manually. Thus, unlike CPS, it isn’t really a solution for single analogue lines as the user simply won’t enter it. However, we’re mostly talking of legacy PBXs here and they pretty much all have a dial-plan capability. It should be trivially easy to prefix some or all of your calls with the code transparently to the user. You might even do this to override CPS elections.

– The second issue is economic. The Narrowband Review made IDA optional and certainly more expensive. If it does work from your lines (it should if they are your own WLR3) you’ll find our rates to on-board a call might seem high, especially through a VoIP lens. This is partly due to the extortionate amount BT is allowed to charge to transit the call and partly due to the design of our SS7 network not minimising that. We were IP first and stepped backwards into the SS7 world to improve quality and performance; this is different to a legacy network moving into IP and dismantling its SS7 capability. There are changes we can make to make IDA  and in turn CPS more cost-efficient but we need a business case to justify investing in them. Meanwhile, whilst we may not be very competitive for say UK-fixed compared to a channel CPS operator, for international destinations and higher rated UK destinations we certainly will be. We’re committed to bringing the IDA rates down as we can though.

We’d urge you to consider using IDA to supplement and protect your call routing on legacy PBX equipment. You might decide to only send non-UK traffic to us, since that is more likely to be where there is a fraud issue and the area we can be most cost-effective. If you do you’ll enjoy all of our real-time information and control, potentially increase your margin but most definitely you will de-risk it.

* but you still enjoy awesome quality, industry leading connection times and a great price!

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