We Don't Allow Your Sort in Here

Posted Jul 2017

After this year’s UK election, when Parliament returned for its brief spell of business during the even briefer spell of very hot weather, the Speaker of the House of Commons ruled that it was perfectly OK for the male members of the House to attend sessions in the chamber without a tie. In previous years, the speaker had also allowed female members to “bare arms” - though thankfully not with the USA’s second amendment implications.

In earlier years, an MP trying to enter the chamber without his tie firmly in place or her arms demurely covered, would have been unusual. It would also have been blocked by the Speaker, Black Rod, or a sergeant-at-arms. But while unusual, the standard of dress would not have rendered the MP any less able to do his or her job. And it seems that now the Speaker has recognised this, and while certain standards of behaviour and dress will be maintained, certain informalities can also be allowed.

What’s all this got to do with signalling and security? It’s simply that our signalling firewalls are designed with ‘what should be allowable’ in mind rather than blocking anything that is out of the ordinary. And in revenue terms, that can make a big difference. Some legitimate call diverts or border roaming activity can pop up as unusual behaviour and be blocked by some systems – stopping the revenue as well as the traffic.

The way we write the rules and configure the intuitive user interface that is the heart of the system helps operators to effectively manage the traffic and identify what is safe and allowable - even if it differs from accepted behaviour - as well as what needs to be blocked. Importantly, the user interface also means that our customers can easily modify and configure the firewall to quickly respond to any new threats or suspect patterns of behaviour.

It’s a subtle difference in approach that can make a big difference to commercial activity. What’s more, some other approaches have been known to allow bad traffic because the rules were not specifically written to block it; whereas our rules allow the acceptable but block the threatening.

We see a lot of traffic. We are processing signalling involving some 600 operators in 200 countries. We see somewhere in the region of 12bn messages every day. That means our understanding of what is unsafe as opposed to unusual is second to none. That’s why we can writes rules that allow the unusual to continue operating safely, while preventing operator and customer fraud.

In short, we let the customer in, but can spot and block the fraudster. And we can do all that without wearing a tie as well.