From Collector: Exploring STIR/SHAKEN

Robocall redemption is a marathon, not a sprint.

6/7/2019 11:00 AM

NewsCollector Magazine
From Collector: Exploring STIR/SHAKEN

As an accounts receivable management company, you struggle to preserve your right-party contact rates every day. And as a consumer, you reminisce about a time when you actually answered the phone when it rang.

Thanks to its ranking as the Federal Communications Commission’s top consumer complaint and its frequent appearance in the mainstream news, the controversial term “robocall” has become a household name.

The FCC just adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes requiring voice service providers to implement the STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication framework if they fail to do so by the end of this year.

Molly Weis, director of marketing and communications for Numeracle, provides insights on call authentication solutions and illegal robocalls in the June issue of Collector magazine.

Much of the conversation around robocalls centers on stopping them, so before going any further, let’s attach the term “illegal” to the word “robocall.”

“Illegal robocall” now properly defines the type of calls we can all agree should be stopped and draws the important distinction that not all robocalls are bad—a fact ACA International members know all too well.

As pressure continues to come down on carriers and service providers to implement solutions to stop the flood of illegal robocall traffic across the network, we hear more and more about the new STIR/SHAKEN protocol, which has been described by numerous media outlets as “the end of robocalls.”

In her article, “Exploring STIR/SHAKEN” Weis analyzes what’s both true and false about that statement and investigates the various challenges and considerations at play as the industry works toward a solution in this business-critical space.


STIR (Secure Telephone Identity Revisited)/SHAKEN (Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs) is a framework designed to assign a certificate of authenticity to each phone call; the certificate acts as a digital signature of trust. Through this framework, it will become possible to identify the originating carrier of any call terminating on a consumer’s device.

The absence of this technology today is what allows illegal robocallers to present themselves as someone they’re not, by illegally spoofing or hiding behind a falsely presented telephone number, and escape persecution.

The major result of the deployment of STIR/SHAKEN will be the successful identification of the originating carrier facilitating the delivery of the illegal call, thus automating the current manual process of traceback.

“By removing the uncertainty around the true origination of a call, bad actors will no longer be able to hide their entry point into the network and subsequently expose the entities supporting this fraudulent activity,” said Rebekah Johnson, ATIS/SIP Forum IP-NNI Joint Task Force member and Numeracle CEO and founder.

“Does this stop illegal robocall traffic from getting on the network? No. But it does increase the ability to trace the source of illegal calling activity back to the call originator, which should deter the continued abuse of the voice channel through the use of illegal robocall spoofing attacks post-STIR/SHAKEN.”

Call Blocking & Labeling Technologies

Anyone who is taking advantage of a robocall blocking identification solution or app knows there are a multitude of technologies available to aid in the identification and prevention of unwanted calls, available right on your device. As a legal enterprise caller, you’re also more than aware that many of your legal business calls are being incorrectly identified and blocked by these technologies as “SCAM” or “FRAUD” calls when they are, in fact, quite the opposite.

So how will STIR/SHAKEN affect device analytics and call blocking and labeling app technologies? This has yet to be determined among carriers and analytics providers. Since STIR/SHAKEN does not identify the enterprise delivering the call, there’s a gap between true verification and identification of the entity behind the call, Weis reports.

Device analytics and call blocking and labeling app technologies will continue to be essential in the attempt to identify who is calling. There is still the opportunity for legal enterprise callers to have their calls improperly presented as “SCAM” or under an incorrect name.

When evaluating a solution for improper call blocking and labeling pre-STIR/ SHAKEN, identifying the phone numbers used in consumer communications and providing substantiated evidence of an enterprise’s legal, compliant use of these phone numbers is the recommended methodology for re-establishing the baseline of truth between a legal entity and the call blocking and labeling app and analytics community.

As Anis Jaffer, chief product officer at Numeracle, noted, “Until industrywide adoption of a ‘Know Your Customer’ process is implemented through STIR/SHAKEN protocol, the registration of phone numbers and certification of legal entity status allows good callers delivering legal communications to keep their trusted brand identity out of the hands of illegal actors.”

Read more on the progress of STIR/SHAKEN implementation and associated challenges for businesses in the June issue of Collector magazine.

At press time, the NPRM approved by the FCC will be open for public comment upon publication in the Federal Register. There will also be the opportunity to comment on whether the FCC should create a safe harbor for providers that block calls that are maliciously spoofed so that caller ID cannot be authenticated and for providers that block calls that are “unsigned.

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