have a good The reason is that you are still afraid to answer the call when an unknown number comes up.
For years, the telecom industry has struggled to curb robocalls, a frustrating and potentially dangerous type of spam that tries to trick anyone who answers. But even with major milestones in defense — including the introduction of two telecom protocols that cryptographically verify the origin of calls — you may still get spam calls that drive you nuts. Still, despite the setbacks, the researchers say they have seen real progress in reducing spam calls in the U.S., and there is potential for further improvement.
At last week’s RSA conference in San Francisco, Josh Bercu of trade association USTelecom and intelligence director Gary Warner of security firm DarkTower presented findings on progress in suppressing robocalls and the illicit call centers they originate, mostly in India. . They dig into the gloomy reality that the problem is far from resolved.
“I don’t think things are going well at all!” Warner told Wired. “People understandably wonder why carriers don’t just block spam calls. But if you’re AT&T or Verizon or T-Mobile or anyone else, you can’t decide which conversations people are allowed to have. I don’t think people want to be in that A surveillance state where operators can decide what conversations Americans are comfortable with.”
That doesn’t mean the carrier didn’t step up the block when it saw enough evidence that the phone had a suspicious origin. But USTelecom’s Bercu noted that deciding how boldly to block is a delicate matter, and each phone company handles it differently.
“As providers become more aggressive in blocking or flagging suspicious calls, they take on a greater risk of falsely blocking or falsely flagging legitimate calls,” he said. “Maybe it’s really a call from a bank or a pharmacy. There are some delicate balances that providers have to strike, some more aggressive than others.”
Bercu also added that different operators use different analytics services to identify suspicious call activity. This can create a situation where, as robocall technology trends and spammers use different tactics to bounce calls across international networks, some analytics services may be better at catching certain behaviors than others.
Bercu is also executive director of the Industry Traceback Group, a neutral entity within USTelecom designated by the Federal Communications Commission to facilitate intelligence sharing to trace the origin of illegal robocalls and facilitate cooperation among carriers. The idea is to study how robocalls can bypass existing technical defenses, identify networks where those protections are not fully implemented, and work with vendors to adopt stronger protections.
But in the end, DarkTower’s Warner said that, as with other digital crime industries such as spam, business email breaches and even ransomware, the key to limiting robocalls is to make it harder for scammers to operate at every level of their business. That means it’s harder for them to forward their calls, recruit call agents and buy lead lists — curated collections that claim to contain phone numbers for targets like the elderly or those with medical problems.
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