What Is Out-of-Band Authentication and How Can It Help My Company?

October 21, 2020

Are you having issues with your phone calls getting marked as spam? You’re likely not alone in this struggle. Many smaller service providers are finding it difficult to comply with changing laws and provide reliable service. 

Fraudulent robocalls have been on the rise for years, with 52% of users saying they receive a robocall every day. The sudden surge in the frequency of these scam calls has led some users to ignore unknown caller IDs.  

For small businesses who rely on incoming and outgoing calls, it’s customary to answer every call you receive. And when it comes to outgoing calls, you may have even noticed customers are ignoring your calls. This trend is both annoying and potentially dangerous since robocalls impact both individuals and small businesses.  

This is where STIR/SHAKEN authentication comes into play. STIR/SHAKEN is a direct response to the call authentication problem. But what can it do for your company? And how can it be used to improve user satisfaction? 

Let’s take a look at how other companies are leveraging STIR/SHAKEN and out-of-band authentication to solve their telecommunication problems. 

STIR/SHAKEN Overview  

The rise in robocalls is a worrying trend for any company who relies on telemarketing or telephone-based customer service. Without a trusted and meaningful way to connect with customers, your customer satisfaction rates may decline. 

STIR/SHAKEN is a set of standards created with the Federal Communications Commission's assistance to authenticate caller IDs. It improves the overall call experience by providing a general standard for call authentication. 

So, how does it work in practice? When callers spoof a number to appear more trustworthy, they will not appear as verified to the call recipient. STIR/SHAKEN technology works instantaneously and enables people to make informed decisions about whether or not to answer incoming calls. 

STIR stands for Secure Telephony Identity Revisited, while SHAKEN stands for Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs. The process involves the creation of a SIP Identity Header, which includes this data: 

  • Attestation level is the confidence indicator given by the originating service provider. Calls may receive full attestation, partial attestation, or gateway attestation, depending on the call source's data. 

  • Date and time of the call 

  • Calling number  

  • Number called 

  • Originating ID for traceback purposes 

  • Location 

  • Signature 

This SIP header is sent to the terminating service provider, who then uses a Secure Telephone Identity (STI) verification service to verify the data. This process results in an easy-to-read verification for the call recipient. For instance, they may see a green tick to indicate a valid number, or the call may be labeled as possible spam. 

The Problems With STIR/SHAKEN 

STIR/SHAKEN is an ideal solution in theory, but it does have specific limitations in the real world.  

For many users, STIR/SHAKEN can quickly verify a caller’s identity and whether they are trustworthy. However, because the system uses SIP technology, it can fall short for landline calls. STIR/SHAKEN only works with calls made entirely using SIP. For smaller communication service providers, telecoms and other similar companies — this presents a significant problem.  

While landlines may seem outdated and in low demand, there are still plenty of households who regularly use their landlines. In 2018, nearly 46% of households still used a landline for communication purposes. 

Despite increasing mobile usage trends, ruling out nearly 50% of households isn’t a suitable option. This problem is further emphasized when you consider many landlines are used for business purposes. 

Out-of-band call authentication is one solution that may be able to solve STIR/SHAKEN’s shortcomings when it comes to the authentication problem. 

What Is Out-of-Band Call Authentication? 

Out-of-band call authentication is one solution that is growing in popularity as service providers look for ways to maintain compliance. This standard uses all of the same authentication and verification methods that STIR/SHAKEN implements, but removes the need for SIP headers.  

Instead, it uses identity tokens stored in a centralized database. With this standard, caller ID information is sent via the Internet and does not interfere with the call path, resolving landline users' issues. 

By implementing out-of-band call authentication technology alongside traditional STIR/SHAKEN technology, the entire system becomes infinitely more effective — as it can now function for a much wider range of calls.  

Even though out-of-band is still in the relatively early stages of development, it is a promising form of technology, which could significantly impact the telecommunications industry.  

Benefits of Out-of-Band STIR/SHAKEN Authentication 

  • Works with any network segment. Out-of-band will allow STIR technology to complete authentication regardless of the type of network segments used to route the call.  

  • Maintain identity tokens in calls. Network equipment and software can potentially strip the identity token from the call-in solutions not using out-of-band authentication. This entire process reduces STIR/SHAKEN’s effectiveness. 

  • Reduce token corruption. Fragmentation can sometimes lead to corrupted tokens when using traditional STIR/SHAKEN. 

  • Out-of-band is still incredibly secure and private. It uses asymmetric encryption methods to ensure only the terminating service providers can decode the tokens. 

  • Out-of-band doesn’t change anything else about the STIR/SHAKEN process. This solution still uses two networks simultaneously and can authenticate call participants. 

Out-of-band authentication is a sensible solution to the authentication problems which exist with current STIR/SHAKEN implementations. This solution can increase adoption rates for smaller service providers who don’t have access to SIP technology. 

STIR/SHAKEN Implementation with Inteliquent 

All companies must implement the STIR/SHAKEN protocol for VoIP calls on June 30, 2021 unless they’ve received an extension from the FCC. What is your company doing to guarantee compliance? 

Inteliquent works with service providers of all sizes to help them find the best pathway to implementation. We’ve helped our clients implement the best STIR/SHAKEN solution for their businesses. 

Are you looking to improve the overall customer experience you provide? We can help you improve network authentication, decrease robocalls and ensure your company’s compliant. 

Connect with Inteliquent’s STIR/SHAKEN experts today to see how we’ve helped other leading companies create personalized adoption plans and streamline the implementation process. 

WRITTEN BY SUZY MYERS

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