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The reliance on digital technologies has made the telecom industry spurred significant growth in recent years. But with the spike in online activities, telecom companies and their consumers have become prime targets for cyberattacks.

From scams to hacking and identity theft, fraudsters are taking every opportunity possible to steal data and money, with their victims suffering unimaginable losses. The following statistics demonstrate the prevalence of cybercrime around the world:

  • Reports received by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission indicate that approximately $134 million was lost to scammers in January 2022 alone.
  • In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that in 2020, about 4.8 million reports of credit card fraud and identity theft translated to financial losses worth $4.5 billion.
  • In 2020, China and the U.S. had the most number of companies reported for fraud at 8,096 and 7,994, respectively.

Being in the telecom industry, your company must implement stringent security measures, including identity and access management solutions that can help protect your organization from constant threats in the online space.

This is where identity proofing comes in, complementing and supporting your company’s data security initiatives. Here’s an in-depth look at how identity proofing works in the telecom industry.

Identity Proofing: A Comprehensive Guide for the Telecom Industry

Identity theft is one of the most rampant crimes globally. In the U.S., the FTC estimates that 9 million identities are stolen yearly. From consumers to corporations, anyone who uses mobile technologies is vulnerable.

This alarming scenario underscores the need to utilize identity proofing solutions, especially in telecommunications, since the smartphone is among the top delivery methods of online scams.

What is Identity Proofing, and How Can It Help the Telecom Industry?

Identity proofing is the process of verifying whether someone is who they claim to be, whether that is on a mobile device or in person. Their biometric and biographical credentials are verified to create their user profile, which is used to authenticate them before they can access an online account, application, or portal.

Effective identity proofing provides assurance that telcos know who their customers are, which reduces the risk of fraud among telecom companies and users. A proven identity ensures no one is misrepresenting them or using their identity to illegally carry out transactions within the mobile platform.

Cybersecurity Threats in the Telecom Industry

There is a vast data exchange constantly happening within mobile networks. As such, identity thieves have multiple opportunities to steal the data they’re after.

Account Takeover
A malicious third party may gain access to a mobile user’s account by manipulating the device’s settings, or successfully executing a phishing scam. If the account is taken over, they can initiate fraudulent transactions under the account owner’s name. 

Vishing Calls
Vishing is a phone scam that involves calling victims and psychologically manipulating them to reveal their personal information, such as financial details. This is also sometimes referred to as a social engineering scam. Typical examples of vishing scams are those that claim a bank account or credit card has been compromised, offer a loan or investment opportunity, and notify taxpayers of supposed violations on their income returns.

Call Transfer Fraud
In this type of fraud, hackers get into a Voice over Internet Protocol Private Box Exchange (VoIP PBX) to call a telecom company’s customers outside the operator’s network and defraud them through extortion or blackmail attempts.

SIM Swap
Also called SIM jacking, an unscrupulous party uses digital tools and techniques to access and misuse a mobile customer’s SIM card and the data stored in it, from contacts to emails and passwords. They take over the victim’s telecom subscription and other digital accounts linked to that SIM. This can also be executed with an in-person social engineering scam, where a fraudster walks into a store and claims to be someone they’re not. This was successfully executed in several high profile cases, incuding Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Related article: Here’s a related article for a more detailed reference to cybersecurity threats in the telco industry and how to deal with them.

Benefits of Identity Proofing in Telecom

Telecom companies can provide a safe and secure environment for people by using identity proofing to:
Facilitate remote customer onboarding
The new normal spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic has led consumers to adopt a primarily digital lifestyle. With identity proofing, mobile customers no longer need to personally submit their official documentation to the telco, as it ensures that the account information matches the IDs presented through remote verification.

Reduce the risk of identity fraud
ID proofing requires users to go through a series of steps to identify themselves as the true owner of the mobile account or application they want to access.

Help With KYC – Know Your Customer
Proving that telcos know their customers and are adhering to compliance requirements around KYC is made easier with an effective identity proofing process. Go above and beyond the basic Basel Committee requirements with the level of identity verification provided by a tool such as the Q5id Proven Identity app. 

Secure online payments
Credit card or mobile wallet users can authenticate their identity to make digital payments safely and securely once they’ve created a proven identity in the system.

Support a frictionless customer experience
As a digital security solution, identity proofing enables telecom providers to deliver services without constantly requiring customers to re-submit their verification documents. Besides being tedious, manually entering user data can result in errors and inconsistencies with grave consequences for both companies and mobile users.

Learn more about how telcos stand to benefit from modern IAM improvements.

How to Get the Most out of Identity Proofing
With the right strategies, you can prevent a full range of cybersecurity threats that may compromise your customers’ identities and data.

Utilize passwordless login
One of the concerns surrounding password use is its vulnerability to brute force attacks and how relatively easy it is to steal them. On the contrary, passwordless authentication relies on storing cryptographic keys on a user’s device during account enrollment.

With a verified ID created with robust identity proofing that utilizes biometrics, users can log in via a face or palm scan rather than having to remember passwords. 

Use stronger credentials for MFA
There are three types of authentication factors

  • Knowledge (Something you know) – PIN, username, or password
  • Possession (Something you have) – Smartphone, USB device, or badge
  • Inherence (Something you are) – Facial biometrics, voice, palm scan 

Many organizations rely on knowledge-based authentication almost exclusively through the use of passwords and/or verification questions. Others are just starting to roll out two-factor authentication with the addition of SMS-based codes or an authenticator app (something you have). The most secure – and easiest to use – authentication method is based on the person themselves, and with modern biometric matching algorithms, it’s nearly impossible to spoof or steal someone’s facial biometric geometry print. 

Take advantage of mobile devices’ biometric technology
From microphones to cameras, mobile devices have the essential features to perform identity proofing without additional hardware or software. Where once you needed to have dedicated hardware readers to capture fingerprints, voice patterns, or facial recognition, today’s mobile device cameras are powerful enough to get the job done. 

Shift to automated instead of manual validation of identity documents

Manual identity validation can lead to all sorts of delays and security threats. To get around this, consider employing identity proofing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to speed up the process by matching the provided credentials to the user’s stored data, leaving identity thieves no time to launch their illegal exploits. It’s still helpful to have a human verify the final data, however, which is why Q5id’s patented process includes a human operator as the final identity proofing step.


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