i3forum, a non-profit body, has launched a “Messaging Fraud Work Group” that will help fight Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging frauds taking place across the telecom ecosystem. This group’s key roles include providing advanced insights, knowledge, and collaboration among industry leaders.
What is A2P Messaging?
Short message service (SMS) was first used nearly 25 years ago and has ever since been an integral part of private and business communications. This application of SMS has further made it evolve into two different categories – Person-to-Person (P2P) and Application-to-Person messaging.
P2P messaging is described as the exchange of text messages between two or more end users i.e. a medium of two-way peer communication. However, A2P messaging is an SMS message sent from an application, like a web or mobile app to a subscriber. These messages could be in the form of customer alerts, verification codes and/or marketing messages. Mostly, it is observed that A2P messaging provides one-way SMS to recipients and are not expected to reply.
Increase in A2P Messaging Fraud
According to a joint study of Mobilesquared and Tata Telecommunications, the A2P messaging industry was worth $11.86 billion in 2017 and is now on course to deliver $26.61 billion in revenue by 2022. However, the same report also highlighted the growing concern among mobile network operators (MNOs) amidst rise in malpractices associated with A2P. The MNOs regarded SIM farms, grey routes, and spam (smishing) as the top three threats related to A2P monetization. They believed that A2P messaging frauds were stealing nearly 9.4% of the total A2P revenue which accounted for almost $1.5 billion.
Fraudsters have begun abusing A2P text messaging with a combination of social engineering attacks and technical workarounds like, Spam, Smishing, access hacking, grey routes, SIM farms, SIM swaps and many more. Thus, it has now become more necessary to stop these malpractices before they cause more severe monetary and reputational damages.
Formulation of the “Messaging Fraud Work Group”
Considering these concerning numbers and varied observations, i3forum decided to bring together the telecom giants of the world on the same platform – called the Message Fraud Work Group – in the fight against A2P Messaging Fraud. The work group members include AT&T, BICS, Deutsche Telekom ICSS, Lanck Telecom, Orange, OTE Globe, PCCW Global, Sparkle and Tata Communications.
Its initial objectives are to promote information sharing and mutual education about combating messaging fraud amongst carriers, while identifying best practices across different regulatory environments. The work group will collaborate to fight messaging fraud across the industry and solve crucial market challenges with new insights and solutions.
Anurag Aggarwal, Chair of the Messaging Fraud Work Group said, “Messaging fraud impacts the entire telecoms ecosystem and can result in loss of revenue, reputation and trust. i3forum’s new initiative brings the international carrier community together to tackle this challenge and enables us to deliver a consistent and coordinated effort to combat messaging fraud. We are aiming to enhance fraud prevention measures and their adoption to protect all kinds of industry players, from carriers to aggregators, MNOs, enterprises and end users.”
The work group aims to promote a Code of Conduct and a Classification Document to define the various types of fraud schemes, the types of disputes and recommendations on how to address those issues for carriers. It will collaborate its findings and observations to mitigate all kinds of messaging fraud in the industry, including identity theft, data theft, network manipulation and commercial exploitation.
Collaboration with MEF
Additionally, the work group is going beyond the i3forum and collaborating with the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), a global trade body that acts as an impartial authority addressing issues affecting the worldwide mobile ecosystem. MEF has already been combating messaging fraud and for quite some time and its A2P SMS Code of Conduct has immensely helped in tackling major fraud types that have been identified, defined and mapped in the MEF’s Enterprise Messaging Fraud Framework. Thus, one of the i3forum’s work group’s first deliverables can be defined as its contribution to the MEF’s Code of Conduct.