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How the war in Ukraine is impacting telecom fraud

by Kelvin Chaffer 

The Russia-Ukraine conflict is impacting the telecoms industry. Halted operations, slowed market growth, impacts on device shipments, problems supply of materials and increased mobile fraud are some of the areas where the impact is felt.

With most network operators having waived charges on all calls and texts to and from Ukraine we are likely to see opportunistic fraudsters take advantage of this. We expect to see an increase in targeted phishing and spam messages as criminals look to exploit and disrupt the networks. The impact of fraud for operators involves network bandwidth waste, increased support costs and reduced quality of service. For subscribers, besides a worsened network experience, the risk of being scammed will be higher. The most common examples that we expect to see are phishing scams which typically come in the form of mass-scale SMS alerts to promote fictitious campaigns to provide financial aid to Ukraine. Phishing scams were increasingly prevalent during the COVID-19 crisis where fraudsters targeted the public with fake vaccination bookings and requested payment. 

Since rolling out zero rate calls and SMS we had a 2500% increase in calls & SMS to the Ukraine. This is why we are fraud detection and fair usage policy control are increasingly important. Lifecycle Software can monitor the network and partner data sources to detect and flag abnormal situations and act on suspicious activity. Advanced algorithms scout networks in real-time and pinpoint SIM cards and devices with abnormal or suspicious usage patterns. We monitor thousands of indicators like abnormal volumes of traffic in a specific location, devices that sent thousands of SMS with a link, IMEIs with exceptionally high data consumption and devices with several SIM cards associated within a short time. We are able to proactively counteract fraudulent behaviours with automatic workflows to terminate, block transactions, or suspend a subscriber in real-time. It is vital that, during this time, network providers are increasingly aware of the vulnerability that its customer may face and look for ways to spot and eliminate any fraudulent activity.

According to Mobile Europe, analysts predicted global smartphone shipments to grow by just 1% in 2022 due to the war. According to Strategy Analytics, growth will improve to 3% in 2023.