"Call Me: Gathering Threat Intelligence on Telephony Scams to Detect Fraud"
Robocalling, voice phishing and caller ID spoofing are common cybercrime techniques used to launch scam campaigns through the telephony channel that many people have long trusted. More than 660,000 online complaints regarding unwanted phone calls were recorded on the top six phone complaints websites. More reliable than online complaints, a telephony honeypot provides complete, accurate and timely information about unwanted phone calls across the United States. By tracking calling patterns in a large telephony honeypot receiving over 600,000 calls per month from more than 90,000 unique source phone numbers, we gathered threat intelligence in the telephony channel. Leveraging this data we developed a methodology to uniquely “fingerprint” bad actors hiding behind multiple phone numbers and detect them within the first few seconds of a call. Over several months, we recorded more than 100,000 calls and analyzed several million call records to validate our methodology. Our results show that only a few bad actors are responsible for the majority of the spam and scam calls and that they can be quickly identified with high accuracy using features extracted from the audio. This discovery has major implications for law enforcement and businesses that are presently engaged in combatting the rise of telephony fraud.
Terry Nelms is a director of research at Pindrop, where he leads a team of applied researchers solving challenging problems in fraud detection and authentication. Prior joining Pindrop, he spent over a decade inventing, designing and developing protection technologies at ISS, IBM and Damballa. His research has produced new security products, patents and publications in top industry and academic conferences. Nelms holds a B.S. and M.S. in Information Systems and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Organized by the Institute for Information Security & Privacy, the free and open-to-the-public Cybersecurity Lecture Series meets throughout the fall each Friday at Noon on the Georgia Tech campus, August – December. Invited speakers include executives and researchers from Fortune 500 companies, federal intelligence agencies, start-ups and incubators, as well as Georgia Tech faculty and students presenting their research.