Ajay Batheja, managing director, iAcuity Telco

With advancements in telecom networks, telecom frauds and security threats are on the rise. In this scenario, companies such as iAcuity Telco enable communications service providers (CSPs) to maximise revenue by reducing fraud and eliminating leakages through near-real-time analytics and detection. In an interview with tele.net, Ajay Batheja, managing director, iAcuity Telco, talks about the growing telecom fraud landscape and the way forward for digital security in 2023…

How has the telecom fraud landscape evolved in India? What are the trends in terms of the types and frequency of such frauds?

Telecom fraud has been a significant issue in India for several years, and the evolution of these frauds in India has been driven by a combination of changing technology and consumer behaviour. The digital transformation of the Indian economy and the rise of e-commerce, online payments, and digital identity has created new opportunities for fraudsters to exploit.

In India, telecom fraud is characterised by a wide range of activities, including SIM card fraud, whereby fraudsters acquire personal information to obtain duplicate SIM cards, which accounts for 39 per cent of all telecom frauds. Another kind of fraud is the phishing fraudsters create fake websites and mobile applications that mimic legitimate organisations, such as banks and telecom companies, to obtain personal and financial information from users, which accounts for 26 per cent of all telecom frauds. Then the­re is SMS spoofing where fraudsters send SMSs that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or a government ag­ency, to obtain personal and financial information from users. SMS spoofing accounts for about 14 per cent of all telecom frauds. Mobile banking fraud has also emerged as a prominent fraud where fraudsters use social engineering techniques, such as phishing and SIM card fraud, to obtain personal and financial information from users.

What are the emerging security threats for telcos with the introduction of 5G and other technologies?

With rapid 5G deployment, the attack surface of telcos has increased significantly. The larger the attack surface, the greater the potential for a cyberattack. Network slicing is a feature that enables the creation of multiple virtual networks on a single physical network, whi­ch also creates new security risks. The implementation of 5G will result in the proliferation of internet of things devices, which are notoriously insecure. 5G and other emerging technologies will also increase the complexity of the telecom supply chain, making it more difficult to ensure the security of the entire supply chain.

What are iAcuity Telco’s key product offerings to address the growing security concerns in the telecom space?

iAcuity Telco is providing various key products to address the growing security issues in the telecom sector. We empower CSPs to ensure that their 5G and legacy networks to comply with lawful interception regulations, maximise revenue, redu­ce fraud, improve their operational effici­ency, and provide secure software-defined wide-area network networks. One of our widely implemented products is iProbe, which is a software-based probe that de­codes, re­a­ssembles and re­co­n­structs network data for analysis, providing valuable customer insight for diagnostics, fraud an­a­lysis, capacity planning, and cu­s­to­­mer experience management. iPCAPTrace is a network an­alysis product that efficiently provides insight into the operator’s network and performance. There is also iSDConnect, a redundant and secure service that allows us to easily manage remote networks while providing high security and constant monitoring.

What will be the way forward for digital security in 2023? What is the company’s strategy for the year?

The government has emphasised the importance of businesses investing more than 10 per cent of their information technology assets in cybersecurity as the number of internet users is expected to skyrocket by the end of 2023, thanks to the introduction of 5G technology.

As artificial intelligence and machine learning are increasingly being used to improve cybersecurity, particularly threat detection and response, in 2023 we can expect to see more businesses adopting these technologies to enhance their cybersecurity measures. As more businesses move their operations to the cloud, cloud security will become increasingly important. The Zero Trust security model is gaining popularity, which assumes that no user, device, or network is inherently trusted, and access is only granted on a need-to-know basis.

Our customers include major firms such as IBM, Ericsson and Nokia, as well as various law enforcement agencies and police departments. As we move ahead in this year, we plan to strengthen our efforts and help communication service providers reduce these frauds, as they highly affect their revenue growth, customer experience and retention.