Fraud: A phenomenon that strikes us in silence

With the boom in information and communication technologies, and the need in our society to always have access to some network, the world of internet connections has increased substantially. However, said technological boom has been accompanied by a spike in illegal activity, because of those who will bend the rules in whichever way will make their life easier, more informed, and better connected.

Some of said cases of illegal activity include theft, cloning, rogue wireless devices, and misuse of communication channels. The services offered by TELCOs are constantly plagued by these types of fraudulent activities, as the complexity of the networks provided by the different operators, and the quantity of devices connected to those networks, makes them especially susceptible. This phenomenon generates an additional cost for the institutions charged with trying to exert more detailed and rigorous control, and who must face a social culture that for convenience’s sake, is always looking for a way to access networks free of charge.

For the communications industry, this is a problem that affects all aspects of business management: firstly it distorts statistics on the actual number of clients using the service, and secondly it reduces the velocity and/or navigation signal for paying customers.  The latter is a significant problem because reduced internet speeds affect the customer’s experience, and therefore affects how much confidence they have in the company.

On the web there is a great deal of information on how to commit internet fraud, including hacking tutorials for specific providers, tools that permit the user to augment the navigation velocity of other users’ modems, methods of altering the MAC directions on devices (JTAG), and the most common which is to connect to private networks using methods of decrypting passwords. This last factor is where the greatest risk of fraud exists, because it involves connecting to a network without the authorization of the owner of the service.

To mitigate the risk of fraud, the industry counts on an array of products that allow them to exert some form of control over these illegal acts. These products vary widely in both cost and purpose. Likewise there are a number of mechanisms that can be used by any individual which help to reduce the risk of being hacked. One example of these mechanisms is the use of passwords to access secure networks. It is also recommended that modem devices have firmware signed by suppliers and developed specifically for the operator that they will by used by, decreasing the risk that any computer can access any network.

Finally, while the majority of countries don’t have legislation in place to regulate the issue, it’s necessary to create additional tools or mechanisms that allow for stronger telecommunications regulations, in order to protect both infrastructure and society from this problem that strikes us in silence. There should be greater sensitivity from the telecommunications sector towards society, in order to foster personal and corporate legality, honesty, transparency, and integrity on the part of both individuals and businesses.

For further reading on techniques to prevent fraud you can read: 5 Quick Tips about Fraud in DOCSIS Networks

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