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July 22nd, 2022

Interoperability, Standards, and Testing: Three Keys to Global Call Authentication Implementation

Nuisance calls, also referred to as unwanted robocalls, are a growing international problem that plague enterprises and consumers. As regulators look to reduce robocalls, call authentication is a logical step. While many countries have implemented Do-Not-Call lists, which help eliminate aggressive marketing tactics from legitimate marketers, they are often ignored by fraudsters.

Implementation of call authentication standards to combat robocalls requires collaboration between regulators, standards bodies, network operators, and equipment manufacturers no matter what country you’re in. As regulators around the world investigate solutions that will put an end to robocalls, call spoofing and fraud, they’re carefully watching the US and Canada to understand what lessons have been learned from their STIR/SHAKEN call authentication implementations. Neustar, a TransUnion company is uniquely positioned to provide this perspective as it at the forefront of global interoperability when it comes to STIR/SHAKEN.

GLOBAL PROBLEM

Losses due to robocall fraud are expected to increase 29% in 2022 to $40B. 45% of those robocalls will occur outside the US.

Source: Juniper Research

REGULATORS REACT

Regulators around the world look protect their citizens from robocalls. For example, in July 2020, the French Parliament introduced further sanctions on robocallers, including fines of up to €375,000 for excessive telephone calls or calling those who are signed up to Bloctel.

In addition to the US and Canada, there’s great interest in call authentication standards in France, which has been mandated by regulator Arcep by July of 2023. Our Trust Lab recently expanded its features and functionality to support France’s STIR PASSporT framework as well as global interoperability testing for evolving international frameworks. Being able to test global interoperability for evolving international frameworks is critical to successful global adoption. Neustar actively participates in the development of call authentication standards and implementation frameworks around the world based on our experiences in the US and Canada.

Read the International Call Authentication (STIR/SHAKEN) FAQs.

What’s STIR/SHAKEN?
STIR (Secure Telephone Identity Revisited), a standard created by the IETF is considered a universal standard that can be successfully deployed in any country to help authenticate calls using SIP-based services. STIR has also been tested extensively in the ATIS Testbed, by domestic and international carriers, for many years.

SHAKEN, on the other hand, was designed specifically for the U.S., and deals with governance issues in how the STIR efforts should be managed.  Countries will need to consider a governance model that best meets the local laws and operators in their country while keeping in mind the need to interoperate with the rest of the world.

Global participation in the Trust Lab.
The Trust Lab serves as the industry’s virtual testbed for Communications Service Providers (CSPs), equipment manufacturers, software suppliers, regulators and industry standards bodies across the globe to remotely test call authentication solutions like STIR/SHAKEN. 

The Lab has also played a critical role in helping the US/Canada cross border deployment of call authentication by providing a technical environment where operators can test common use cases. More than sixty-six participants from seven countries have already used the testbed to try out various options.

Read the press release: Neustar Enables Seamless Cross-Border STIR/SHAKEN Call Authentication Between US and Canada.

Stopping the bad guys – even harder with international calls.
To stop bad actors, a call must be authenticated to ensure it has not been spoofed and to create a traceback capability. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy for international calls, which require the authentication data to pass between operators at the time of the call. To accomplish this, regulators, standards bodies, and carriers need to work together to establish business rules to exchange traffic and then technically implement them.

Read the Juniper Research Report, commissioned by Neustar, Global Robocalling: Learning from the US.

When Canada adopted STIR/SHAKEN in 2021, it required the formation of a governance organization that is similar to ATIS in the US, which would establish the rules for implementing STIR/SHAKEN.

In fact, when call authentication was first implemented in Canada, calls between the US and Canada could not be verified in the U.S., and vice versa, because the approved Certificate Authority (STI-CA) issuing the STIR/SHAKEN certificate in one country was not recognized in the other. However, as of October 22, 2021, Policy Administrators (PAs) in the U.S. and Canada made their STIR/SHAKEN certificate lists available to the public - enabling cross-border authenticated calls. 

International call authentication has no “easy button”.
As nations consider whether STIR and/or SHAKEN are viable call authentication processes for their specific infrastructures, the US and Canada, provide robust examples of what needs to be considered ―standards, technology, and interoperability testing between countries. 

It’s also important to work with a partner that has experience in this space. Neustar is a pioneer in call authentication as the co-author of STIR standards and early contributor to the SHAKEN framework, and we play an ongoing leadership role in defining industry standards with ATIS, IETF, and CRTC.

Many Trust Lab participants have also relied on our Certified Caller solution to deploy all components of STIR/SHAKEN so they can be compliant with regulations, stay up-to-date with the latest developments in call authentication. 

Learn more about Certified Caller and register for the Trust Lab to begin testing today!

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