FCC asks carriers to step up to stop SIM…

The US federal agency puts pressure on telecom carriers to put better authentication, account protection safeguards in place.

Last week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put out for comment its first set of consumer cybersecurity protection rules under the Biden administration. These proposed rules address the growing scourge of so-called SIM swapping and port-out fraud.

These scams exploit the fact that many businesses and organizations use cell phones to identify individuals for a host of accounts aside from mobile phone service. Among the accounts that use cell phones number for identification are e-mail, social media, banking, cryptocurrency exchanges, and online retail outlets, to name just a few of the kinds of accounts that criminal actors can compromise.
SIM (subscriber identity module) cards allow carriers to identify individual users once inserted in a device. Mobile phone owners can typically switch carriers and keep their own devices by simply swapping out SIM cards.

In issuing its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the FCC said it “has received numerous complaints from consumers who have suffered significant distress, inconvenience, and financial harm as a result of SIM swapping and port-out fraud.” As Senator Ron Wyden said in a letter he and his colleagues sent to the FCC last year urging the agency to address SIM swapping, fraudsters use SIM swapping to “get wireless carriers to transfer the cell phone accounts of victims to them, steal their login credentials and then empty their victims’ bank accounts.”

This article appeared in CSO Online. To read the rest of the article please visit here.

Photo by Eirik Solheim on Unsplash


Trump administration moves to revoke China Telecom’s US licenses…

lead centered=”no”A legal filing claims China Telecom is in violation of federal and state cybersecurity and privacy laws, but evidence is redacted./lead

Highlighting the diminished opportunities for Chinese telecom and technology providers in the US, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced last week that the Trump Administration would seek to revoke and terminate the licenses of mobile operator China Telecom. China Telecom is authorized to provide communications, data, television and business services in the US as a facilities-based common carrier. It obtains spectrum licenses from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under what is called international Section 214 authorizations.

The DOJ announcement said relevant executive branch agencies unanimously recommended that the FCC revoke the telco’s licenses because it is an arm of the Chinese government and therefore poses “substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks.” Those agencies collectively represent an ad hoc arrangement of the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security, formerly known as Team Telecom, which was established to ensure that the FCC defers to the executive branch when it comes to, among other things, matters of foreign ownership of communications assets in the US.

The redacted legal filing containing the agencies’ recommendation was submitted to the FCC’s International Bureau Filing System (IBFS) by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which filed on the agencies’ behalf. NTIA’s filing was the first that followed a somewhat unexpected April 4 Executive Order, which formalized or codified for the first time the Team Telecom arrangement.

This article appeared in CSO Online. To read the rest of the article please visit here.


Telecom insiders detail hardships posed by Chinese technology ban

lead centered=”no”
Banning Chinese Telecom vendors Huawei and ZTE creates fear, uncertainty and doubt as well as new supply chain security ideas among small telcos.

Democratic Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Geoffrey Starks hosted a workshop on June 27 entitled “Find IT, Fix It, Fund It” to hear from “interested parties on how to address the national security threats posed by insecure equipment within our communications networks.” Although not explicitly stated in the Commission’s public notice or its press release, the issue addressed in the workshop is whether and how to remove from the nation’s communications networks technology from Chinese suppliers given the recent executive order banning American companies from using any telecommunications equipment deemed to be a security risk.

That order was squarely aimed at China’s top telecom tech providers Huawei and ZTE as well as any other Chinese tech vendor whose products appear in the nation’s communications networks. The half-day workshop featured a range of speakers including academics, small telecom providers, rival telecom tech providers and small telecom trade association representatives. Almost all spoke about the uncertainty and fear the ban has created and the stark financial and opportunity costs it will impose.

This article appeared in CSO Online. To read the rest of the article please visit here.