What is the Sim Box Problem?
For mobile network operators, large-scale SIM Farms, either on-network or off-network, now represent the biggest challenge to the growth of revenues from A2P messaging services. SIM Farms exploit bulk SMS bundles available with standard SIM packages to send large volumes of A2P messages at extremely low cost. As operators typically charge around 3 cent for legitimate A2P termination, revenue loss via SIM Farms can be substantial. The Fraud Loss Survey Report 2021 has pegged losses from SIM box fraud and the broader interconnect bypass fraud at $3.11 billion, or 7.8% of global telecom
SIM Farms are run by a shadowy layer of micro-providers that exist alongside the public facing aggregators that manage the termination of the bulk of A2P traffic between enterprises and operators. A significant proportion of global A2P traffic is ultimately terminated on networks via these SIM Farms. Openmind Networks has discovered large volumes of 2FA traffic from leading social media providers delivered on networks in this way, as well as traffic from major banks and other financial institutions. It is unlikely that these organizations would knowingly use fraudulent routes to send content to their customers.
In the past, mobile operators typically relied on volume threshold settings on their SMS Firewalls to detect SIMBOX activity on their networks. For example, any number sending more than 300 messages per day might be considered a SIMBOX and blocked. However, the rise in large SMS bundled offerings per SIM has made it difficult to correctly establish what the maximum message rate per day should be. It is also clear that experienced SIM Farm providers are keeping message volumes per SIM below the network threshold and thereby remaining active for a long period.
It has become apparent that the only effective way to detect SIMBOX activity is to use technology that can combine automated analysis of the content of messages with volume-based analysis to correctly identify active SIMBOX devices without the risk of false positives. Openmind Networks has developed an advanced SIMBOX detection solution as part of our machine-learning-based Smart Services portfolio
Openmind’s SIM BOX Detection Solution
Openmind’s solution for SIM BOX Detection uses our machine-learning Smart Control technology to detect Application-to-Person (A2P) content coming from mobile devices.
Mobile devices sending A2P messages can be considered as SIMBOX devices. We further classify the type of A2P content being sent by these devices to allow the host Operator to decide which types of devices to block.
The reason for this is that the Operator may wish to temporarily permit the delivery of content that is essential for their mobile subscribers. In the long term, Operators need to have a monetization plan to ensure that all legitimate content is terminated through their official A2P channels.
To prevent false positives, we implement SIMBOX detection in near-realtime, and start blocking numbers once a minimum threshold for sending A2P content is hit, (for example, 10 instances of known A2P content coming from a single device).
Once this happens, the sender MSISDN can be automatically added to a SIMBOX blacklist, and this list uploaded to the network firewall for blocking.
Smart Control uses Artificial Intelligence technology to apply a classification ‘Tag’ to all incoming messages. This Tag identifies the type of message based on its content, e.g. 2FA, Password Resets, Targeted Financial Information etc.
Using the Tag, any messaging platform can make an intelligent routing/charging/blocking decision based on precise knowledge of the content. The Tags can be unique for each customer, we model your portfolio of messaging services and implement the necessary rules controlling each service in the network.
SIMBOX Control Tool
The SIMBOX Control Tool uses the Tags assigned by Smart Control to present a view of active SIMBOX devices on the network so the operator can determine what should be blocked.
The tool can import lists of numbers (e.g. whitelists of M2M devices and legitimate enterprises) that need to be excluded from SIMBOX selection. The tool allows operators to manually create SIMBOX blacklists for uploading to a Firewall, or can be used to configure automated settings.
The Tool allows operators to identify both on-network SIMBOX devices, as well as SIMBOX devices operating on domestic or international partner networks. Operators can use the GUI to filter on particular content types for priority blocking.
How we help you with SIM Box detection
Tools & Software used: Openmind’s Smart Control Machine Learning Technology, SIMBOX Control Tool
Openmind Resources: Engineering & Operations
Customer Interfaces: A2P Business Owners (International & Domestic), Revenue Assurance, Fraud Management, Regulatory & Customer Experience Management
Customer Outcomes: Give you the ability to detect and block SIMBOX originated traffic on the network. Goal of the service is to protect A2P revenues by ensuring that message delivery via SIMBOX devices is not a quality option for important A2P customers.
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