5 MNO Security Risks You Can Counter with Proactive Testing

4 min read

It is always better to prevent the cause of an illness than to treat the symptoms after the fact. The same principle applies to combating fraud and maximising your revenue. Proactive network testing allows MNOs to identify and stop emerging threats before the damage is done.

Threat landscape: challenges that MNOs face

Cooperating with over 1,000 partner networks spread across more than 200 countries has given GMS a great aerial view of the entire MNO landscape and the challenges that MNOs face when trying to secure their networks. Over the years, we have identified the ones that come up consistently:

No in-house infrastructure to detect fraudulent activities — many MNOs do not have the in-house capability or resources to detect fraudulent activities on their networks. This means that fraud is often taking place over the network in various ways, invisible to the operator.

Insufficient knowledge or resources to keep an eye on weak spots and identify all loopholes many MNOs do not understand how fraud is perpetrated on their networks. Or they may have the knowledge to know how the fraud could be undertaken, but don’t have the resources to identify the specific fraud attempts that are taking place on their network.

Difficulties in establishing a strong grasp of all fraud methods — some networks may be set up and ready to protect against certain types of fraud, but not all. The issue with this is that if your network is vulnerable to one method of fraud, then it might as well be vulnerable to all of them. Frauds
ters talk and share information, so eventually, word will get around.

No dedicated teams to proactively seek loopholes found by fraudsters — being proactive when it comes to fraud is crucial, as once a loophole is found by fraudsters, then anyone inclined to that behaviour will start to use it. What was originally a loophole widens and widens until it becomes a huge MNO security risk.

No visibility of the actual price floated in the market to terminate A2P SMS traffic — many MNOs are only aware of their direct competitors’ pricing, while knowing the actual international A2P traffic termination tariffs floated in the market is vital for identifying fraud.

Dive deeper with GMS Testing

In early 2022 GMS refreshed our product portfolio and launched a revitalised MNO product, Messaging Protection. It is designed to give MNOs peace of mind when it comes to the security of their networks, maximising the network revenue, minimising grey route traffic and preventing MNO security risks. GMS Testing Services is a key part of this product, designed to proactively test our MNO partners’ networks and stop fraud in its tracks.

GMS Testing Services aims to counteract the challenges that we have seen MNOs face:

Investigate complex manipulation scenarios and provide rapid reporting through working with partner networks, we have a strong knowledge of the current trends in fraud. We also have an eye on developing ones that are just starting to appear in other countries but have yet to spread internationally. We monitor our partner networks and provide timely and accurate reporting on any potential weaknesses that we can see.

Identification of grey routes and open links used to bypass authorised channels — GMS also reviews current traffic, identifying the grey routes used to commit fraud on the network.

Understanding of market rates to terminate A2P traffic — working with our global partners means that we know what they charge and have a strong view of the international A2P SMS market, helping us split out legitimately billed traffic and illegal messaging flows.

Build an understanding of fraudulent activities on MNOs’ networks — analysing network traffic will give us a strong idea of what sort of fraud might be taking place. For example: SIM boxes, flash calls, smishing, malware and many others.

The GMS Testing Process

Network Health Check MNO Security Risks

Network Health Check
GMS will run multiple simulations of A2P traffic and check the overall health of the network

Services Testing MNO Security Risks

Services Testing
The simulations are analysed, and any weaknesses that are currently being exploited will be found

Available Routes Testing MNO Security Risks

Available Routes Testing
SMS deliverability is tested, and we will begin continuous testing of the quality and validity of all available and working monetised routes

Stress Testing MNO Security Risks

Stress Testing
We will estimate what Grey Route Traffic loss the network is seeing and analyse any internal factors impacting SMS revenue

Flash Call Identification MNO Security Risks

Flash Call Identification
Identifying suspected numbers thought to be using flash calling and redirect authentication back to A2P OTPs

Reporting & Analytics MNO Security Risks

Reporting & Analytics
Testing results are presented in an easy to understand and meaningful way, identifying loopholes and giving a granular level of visibility on the performance of every service

Unbreachable networks start with testing

Proactive testing is essential to maximising your revenue and preventing MNO security risks. Many MNOs are playing catch up while fraudsters are exploiting their networks. Only by testing your network and expanding your knowledge of fraud techniques and the A2P SMS market as a whole can you begin to protect and secure your network.

Find out more about GMS’ Messaging Protection and our Testing Services.

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