Spoofing Against Spoofing: Towards Caller ID Verification In Heterogeneous Telecommunication Systems

Shen Wang, Mashid Delavar, Muhammad Ajmal Azad, Farshad Nabizadeh, Steve Smith, Feng Hao

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Caller ID spoofing is a global industry problem and often acts as a critical enabler for telephone fraud. To address this problem, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has mandated telecom providers in the US to implement STIR/SHAKEN, an industry-driven solution based on digital signatures. STIR/SHAKEN relies on a public key infrastructure (PKI) to manage digital certificates, but scaling up this PKI for the global telecom industry is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Furthermore, it only works with IP-based systems (e.g., SIP), leaving the traditional non-IP systems (e.g., SS7) unprotected. So far the alternatives to the STIR/SHAKEN have not been sufficiently studied. In this paper, we propose a PKI-free solution, called Caller ID Verification (CIV). CIV authenticates the caller ID based on a challenge-response process instead of digital signatures, hence requiring no PKI. It supports both IP and non-IP systems. Perhaps counter-intuitively, we show that number spoofing can be leveraged, in conjunction with Dual-Tone Multi-Frequency (DTMF), to efficiently implement the challenge-response process, i.e., using spoofing to fight against spoofing. We implement CIV for VoIP, cellular, and landline phones across heterogeneous networks (SS7/SIP) by only updating the software on the user?s phone. This is the first caller ID authentication solution with working prototypes for all three types of telephone systems in the current telecom architecture. Finally, we show how the implementation of CIV can be optimized by integrating it into telecom clouds as a service, which users may subscribe to.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalACM Transactions on Privacy and Security
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 27 Sept 2023


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