Authentication in a ‘Flash’: The Opportunity of Flash Calling
Speed holds a unique fascination for me. In fact, one of my favorite TV characters wields speed as his superpower. But, as customers, don’t we all love speed? Businesses, too. Think of factories aiming to make products in shorter cycles through just-in-time manufacturing, developers who use agile and DevOps for quicker software releases, and how every business is looking to adopt the cloud because it does things faster at a lower cost.
These days, we find banks advertising account opening processes within minutes, not months, as they used to be. What’s enabling this speed? If we were in a fictional world, the beloved superhero I mentioned earlier, “Barry Allen, the fastest man alive,” would pop into our minds. In the real world, the trigger is similar. It is a new ‘speed force’ named Flash Calling that empowers organizations to accelerate the pace of business.
The Power of Speed
Delivered via telecom networks, flash calls are the latest in verification methods – enabling authentication in a flash! It consists simply of a missed call made to your mobile number.
As a customer, you could receive a flash call to verify a transaction from your bank or a login attempt into your account. It is fast, secure, and does the job without having to manually key in verification information – as one would do with OTPs. It is also much more cost-effective because businesses that use flash calls only need to deliver a missed call, which has lower termination rates than paying for an OTP-carrying SMS.
Operationally, flash calling has an ecosystem of partners involving enterprises, flash call providers, telecom networks, and end customers. Authentication is done on the SIM card using a matrix involving four or six digits of the end customer’s mobile number.
The paradox – Speed can be dangerous
But no modern technology – or superpower– comes without its pitfalls. In ‘The Flash’ series, Barry’s intentions are always pure – to save the good guys and nab the criminals. He uses his superspeed, but this sometimes raises new threats. Fans of the show may recall the dangerous paradoxes he causes by traveling in time.
Flash calls, too, while hugely beneficial to the overall customer experience, create new risks for telcos.
Fraudsters can exploit the loopholes in the channels or bypass the existing anti-fraud measures established by telcos to monitor and prevent fraud.
Dealing with the paradox
Flash calling is potentially a lucrative revenue for telecom operators – provided they protect the channel from fraud. However, regulatory bodies are yet to catch up in assessing the risk landscape of flash calling. Some of the most pressing tasks would be to introduce standards, that could prove helpful in verifying calling parties and securing end-to-end call attestation. Regulators could also mandate legal ways for genuine telecom operators and network partners to intercept flash calls and ensure delivery on secure routes, thereby avoiding grey route exploitation by fraudsters. One caveat here is that the rules should comply with global geo-specific norms.
But until such a time comes, here’s what telcos can do to secure their investments and reap the benefits of flash calling.
- Upgrade security solutions with flash-calling safeguards. This could involve creating safelists of flash calling providers and implementing new fraud controls and protocols.
- Real-time Analytics. This could involve analyzing real-time network and signaling traffic and performing proactive monitoring through signatures and heuristics.
- Create transparency. Sending instant alerts to the relevant stakeholders upon identification of suspicious behavior can help telcos collaborate to combat the exploitation of flash calling services.
- Invest in flexible and scalable solutions. These will be essential to accommodate flash calling demand, which is expected to grow shortly.
Friends of Flash
On its own, flash calling is a new and exciting tool, albeit with a few risks. But rather than shy away from the potential revenue due to possible threats, CSPs should consider a proactive approach. Furthermore, just like ‘The Flash’ depends on his friends and state-of-the-art tech from STAR labs to use his speed for good, CSPs ought to consider investing in modern technologies and harnessing the power of the telecom ecosystem to maximize the value of flash calls.
As Iris West, another beloved character on the show, wisely says, “A little fear can be a healthy thing. It helps you determine which risks are worth taking.”
Subex Fraud Management Solution is built on HyperSense, an AI Orchestration platform that allows CSPs to confidently take charge of new trends through responsive fraud mitigation techniques. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more.
One stop solution to address all types of telecom frauds across Voice, Data and Digital Services
Harish works with Subex as a Technical Product Manager for Fraud management and is also a part of the business consulting group as an SME for a signaling security solution. He has more than 7 years of experience in the space of fraud and risk. He has abundant experience working with telcos across the globe on implementing signaling solutions and VAS products.
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