Robocalls! They’re driving us insane!
It’s noon. You sit down to eat you lunch, suddenly a potential new client is calling, you know you must answer it… even though you’re elbows deep into your Chipotle burrito. You quickly use a hundred napkins to clean your hands and face as you answer the phone. “Hello?” you ask eagerly hoping to hear the voice of a million dollar client on the other end. “Hello, this is Josh from Microsoft” you hear in a middle eastern accent. You sadly proclaim, “Damnit, this again!?” as you hang up the phone and get back to eating your sadness away.
It happens to millions of Americans everyday- actually 26.3 billion robocalls in 2018 alone, but what can we do? Fortunately two large businesses you may have heard of are finally doing something about it. Comcast and AT&T have recently partnered to authenticate calls between the two networks. This is an industry first and is being supported by many of their competitors including Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Charter Spectrum, Vonage, and Cox Cable to name a few. This verification will be free to their customers as an added feature.
How do they plan to do this?
The protocol is SHAKEN (Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENS) STIR (Secure Telephone Identity Revisited).
“…A call that is illegally ‘spoofed’ – or shows a faked number – will fail the SHAKEN/STIR Caller ID verification and will not be marked as verified,” according to an AT&T statement. “By contrast, verification will confirm that a call is really coming from the identified number or entity.”
This protocol works by using digital certificates to analyze where the calls are coming from and where they are going. When a call is passed to a telecommunications company that has a trusted cert authority, the cert is then checked for legitimacy and marked as verified once it comes back clean. If a call is not verified it will likely show up as such on your caller ID and you will be able to ignore it from there.
Is it going to be mandatory for all telecom companies to adopt this?
There have been threats from the FCC to adopt technology like this is 2019 for all businesses, however, there is also a bill in congress currently (TRACED Act bill) aiming to make this protocol mandatory.