I was reading an article the other day about the potential impact that the proliferation of M2M devices may have on wireless network fraud. The article was a Q&A with an executive from a wireless fraud consulting company, so it was certainly framed with a "sky could be falling" bias, but it got me thinking — What can M2M network providers offer their customers to help eliminate the potential fraud opportunities that could compromise the security of the devices they connect and applications they power?
Device fraud and security issues have always been bigger pain points compared to those of actual wireless network security, since devices can be lost or stolen and SIM cards can be swapped from one device to another. Network providers have long struggled with finding effective ways to mitigate threats to both revenue and data. So, in order to ensure the security and integrity of M2M devices, application developers should look to network providers who offer additional, embedded features of security in their networks that will help quickly detect, prevent and thus, defeat fraud.
Do you know where your device is? Losing a device or having a device stolen is probably the biggest concern especially when it relates to a mobile device. Network providers offering location based services [link to previous blog regarding LBS] can locate devices regardless of GPS capabilities or lack thereof. In fact, due to GPS performance requirements needing some line of sight to satellites overhead, a cellular based LBS service can serve as a complement to this existing functionality.
Is your device visible on the network? Device visibility is another security technique to help detect fraud. By viewing the connectivity and data transmissions of a particular device, especially one that is consuming a substantially larger amount of data over what the expected average usage typically is –you can determine if a device is being used improperly or maybe even determine if the SIM card has been removed and is being used by another device. This feature set allows you to view, analyze and manage specific device activity, down to the granular details, providing the truest account for how a device is connecting to and utilizing the M2M network. Additionally, some network service providers have safeguards in place that will not allow a SIM card to be swapped into a device that it isn't intended for – it simply will not work. By checking the MSISDN of the SIM with the IMEI of the device and determining they do not match, a network operator can determine that something is amiss, and that a SIM card has been put into a different device than was registered with the network. It is at the network operator's discretion as to whether to allow the device to operate and alert the user, or block the data session entirely. This helps cut down on fraudulent data usage charges and defeats the incentive for further tampering or thefts.
How is your application connected to the network provider? Working with a network provider that offers redundant fail-over capabilities for your application as well as secure VPN connectivity will offer the greatest integrity and security of your data.
With M2M bringing new connected devices online by the thousands – soon projected to be millions – the stakes for fraud increases exponentially, as does the need to be able to take extra measures to protect your devices from mis-use and your valuable airtime from theft. M2M application providers and end users who want to ensure that devices are used as deployed need a comprehensive management system in place.
As a specialist in M2M, KORE developed the PRiSMPro portal to provide each of these security management capabilities to aid in automatically detecting rogue or fraudulent usage issues with M2M devices residing on the KORE network and alerting customers as to the suspected breach. However, alerting is only half the story: the best solution for defeating device security/fraud might still be the old fashioned way of monitoring usage and picking up the phone and informing your M2M network provider of potential issues, the minute you discover them. Any provider worth its salt should be able to resolve problems immediately via a personal interaction.
By Danny Thomas, VP Operations
Danny has over 23 years of experience in the wireless and telecommunications industry working in Asia, North America, and the U.K. He joined KORE in 2009 and was instrumental in driving the implementation of our state-of-the-art, fully redundant network architecture. Danny joined KORE after 14 years with AT&T Mobility as the Sr. Director of National Wireless Data Operations, where he worked on several state-of-the-art wireless projects including the launch of the first 2G, 2.5G, and 3G networks and the launch of the Apple I-Phone.