How do you think James Bond likes his PHONE CALLS – SHAKEN or STIR? Based on an initiative founded by the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) to combat Robocalls & Spoofing, the answer is BOTH!
What is STIR/SHAKEN?
STIR/SHAKEN is a framework that was created to help combat illegal caller ID spoofing and stop robocall companies from masking the true numbers of unwanted and illegal calls. STIR, or Secure Telephone Identity Revisited, is a call-certifying protocol while SHAKEN, or Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs, verifies that the caller's ID is appropriate for the call from this end user. The idea is to make it so that the identity of every call is authenticated when it originates — kind of like a digital signature — that allows you to rest assured that the number on your caller ID is indeed the right number for the originating caller.
How does this framework help combat Robocalls?
The strategy is very similar to the approach that was used years ago to combat email spam. Providers redirected email messages identified as spam into a different inbox to filter out unwanted emails. Once spam stopped showing up in inboxes, it stopped being profitable and email spam overall went on the decline. The thought behind STIR/SHAKEN is that if you eliminate the ability for spammers to impersonate a phone number, the economics will stop making sense and the practice will dry itself up.
So how is this accomplished? A user makes an outbound call. The originating carrier checks the call source and calling number to determine the validity of the calling number. The originating carrier then uses its authentication service to create a SIP Identity header which is encrypted with a private key. The call with the SIP Identity header is then sent to the terminating carrier. The terminating carrier’s verification service obtains the public key from the digital certificate of the originating carrier and begins the verification process. Once the calling number has been validated as not being spoofed, the call is completed to the called party. Via this framework, a call will always be authenticated by originating carrier and verified by the terminating carrier before reaching consumers.
Carriers such as T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and more are already on-board and as recently as January 10, 2019, have implemented the STIR/SHAKEN standards. As annoying – and potentially dangerous – as robocalls are, with proper steps, the telecommunications industry is working together towards minimizing, or eventually eliminating, their existence. With STIR/SHAKEN, you will once again be able to pick up your phone with confidence and know that the number on your caller ID can be trusted.
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