CLI/NCLI, Robocalls and STIR/SHAKEN

To understand the need for implementing an identification verification technique in Internet protocol based network to network communication system , we need to evaluate the existing problem plaguing the VoIP setup .

What is Call ID spoofing ? 

Vulnerability of existing interconnection phone system which is used by robo-callers to mask their identity or to make it appear the call is from a legitimate source, usually originates from voice-over-IP (VOIP) systems.

In this context understand the Caller Line identification CLI/ NCLI techniques used by VoIP and OTT( over the top) providers today.

CLI (Caller Line Identification)

If call goes out on a CLI route ( White Route ) the received party will likely see your callerID information

  • Lawful – Termination is legal on the remote end ie abiding country’s telco infrastructure and stable
  • Expensive – usually with direct or via leased line (TDM) interconnections with the tier-1 carriers.

Non-CLI (Non-Caller Line Identification)

The Caller ID is not visible at the call
If call goes out on a Non-CLI route (Grey Route) goes out on a non-CLI routes they will see either a blocked call or some generic number.

  • Unlawful – questionable legality or maybe violating some providers AUP(Acceptable Use Policy ) on the remote end.
  • Cheaper – low quality , usually via VoIP-GSM gateways

Example include robocalls , tele-marketting / spam etc which are unwilling to share their Caller Id for call receiver, to not be blocked or cancelled.

To overcome the problem of non-verifiable spam , robocalls a suite of protocols and procedures are proposed that can combat caller ID spoofing on VOIP and connected public telephone networks.

STIR/SHAKEN

Secure Telephony Identity Revisited / Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs

Used by robocallers to mask their identity or to make it appear the call is from a legitimate source
usually orignates from voice-over-IP (VOIP) systems

STIR

Standards developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) 

For telecommunication service providers implement  certificate management system to create and manage the public and private keys, digital certificates used to sign and verify Caller ID details. 

Adds information to the SIP headers that allow the endpoints along the system to positively identify the origin of the data , such as JSON web tokens encrypted with the provider’s private key, encoded using Base64,

There are three levels of verification, or “attestation”

  • A : Full Attestation
    indicates that the provider recognizes the entire phone number as being registered with the originating subscriber.
  • B : Partial Attestation
    call originated with a known customer but the entire number cannot be verified,
  • C : Gateway Attestation
    call can only be verified as coming from a known gateway

How can the Public Key Infrastructure be used ? 

In an interconnection network , each telephone service provider will obtain its digital certificate from a certificate authority (CA)  that is trusted by other telephone service providers. Calling party signs the SIP Header  caller ID as legitimate . The called party verifies that the calling number is authentic

STIR

Originating service provider’s encrypted SIP Identity Header includes the following data:

  1. Attestation level
  2. Date and Time
  3. Calling and Called Numbers
  4. Orig ID for analytics and/or traceback purposes among others
  5. Location of certificate repository
  6. Signature
  7. Encryption algorithm

FCC has also assigned the role of a Secure Telephone Identity Policy Administrator (STI-PA) which oversees that CAs do not provide certificate to spoofing robocallers and enforce the framework for STIR /SHAKEN .

Sample Identity header in SIP requst

INVITE sip:bob@biloxi.example.org SIP/2.0
Via: SIP/2.0/TLS pc33.atlanta.example.com;branch=z9hG4bKnashds8
To: Bob
From: Alice ;tag=1928301774
Call-ID: a84b4c76e66710
CSeq: 314159 INVITE
Max-Forwards: 70
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2002 13:02:03 GMT
Contact:
Identity:
"ZYNBbHC00VMZr2kZt6VmCvPonWJMGvQTBDqghoWeLxJfzB2a1pxAr3VgrB0SsSAaifsRdiOPoQZYOy2wrVghuhcsMbHWUSFxI6p6q5TOQXHMmz6uEo3svJsSH49thyGnFVcnyaZ++yRlBYYQTLqWzJ+KVhPKbfU/pryhVn9Yc6U="
Identity-Info: https://atlanta.example.com/atlanta.cer;alg=rsa-sha1
Content-Type: application/sdp
Content-Length: 147

v=0
o=UserA 2890844526 2890844526 IN IP4 pc33.atlanta.example.com
s=Session SDP
c=IN IP4 pc33.atlanta.example.com
t=0 0
m=audio 49172 RTP/AVP 0
a=rtpmap:0 PCMU/8000

SHAKEN

STIR is based on the SIP protocol and is designed to work with calls being routed through a VOIP network. Since traditional endpoints like POTS and SS7 networks also should be covered under this call authenticity framework , SHAKEN was developed to manage call via IP-to-telephone gateways .

Developed by the Alliance of Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS)

Working Steps  :

  1. When a call is initiated, a SIP INVITE is received by the originating service provider.
  2. Originating service provider verifies the call source and number to determine how to confirm validity.
    1. Full Attestation (A) — The service provider authenticates the calling party AND confirms they are authorized to use this number. An example would be a registered subscriber.
    2. Partial Attestation (B) — The service provider verifies the call origination but cannot confirm that the call source is authorized to use the calling number. An example would be a calling number from behind an enterprise PBX.
    3. Gateway Attestation (C) — The service provider authenticates the call’s origin but cannot verify the source. An example would be a call received from an international gateway.
  3. Create a SIP Identity header that contains information on the calling number, called number, attestation level, and call origination, along with the certificate thus caller ID “signed” as legitimate
  4. SIP INVITE with the SIP Identity header with the certificate is sent to the destination service provider.
  5. Destination service provider verifies the identity of the header and certificate.

Diagrammatic depiction of flow of how Telecom carriers to digitally validates authenticity before receiving or handoff through their network

SHAKEN

References