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2016-12-12

Only 30% of subscribers are aware of risks posed by mobile network vulnerabilities

Xura, Inc.
Press release

Only 30% of subscribers are aware of risks posed by mobile network
vulnerabilities

Nearly a third never check their bill to verify correct charges and detect
suspicious activity

WAKEFIELD, Mass., 2016-12-12 16:00 CET (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --
Research commissioned by Xura, Inc, a leading provider of secure, digital
communications services, has revealed the extent to which mobile subscribers
are unaware of vulnerabilities in their mobile operator’s network that could
lead to their calls or texts being intercepted, so becoming victims of fraud or
unauthorized location tracking. Only 30 percent of respondents to the survey –
conducted with consumers in the US, UK and Australia – claimed awareness of any
security weakness in mobile phone networks.

Respondents provided a list of reasons for their security concerns including
vulnerabilities in operating systems (nine percent), apps (six percent),
operator data leaks (three percent) and vulnerabilities in Bluetooth, WiFi, and
voicemail hacking. However, only six percent indicated specific awareness of
vulnerabilities in the technology of the telecoms network itself.

Mark Windle, Strategy and Marketing Director, Xura Security, said: “SS7
(Signaling System 7) is a core technology used by telecoms networks globally.
SS7, however, contains vulnerabilities that can be exploited to carry out a
whole host of malicious activities; from triggering fraudulent calls or texts
to be sent to premium rate services at the subscriber’s expense, to location
tracking and call/SMS interception. The threat is very real, but thankfully so
too is the solution. Xura is actively helping operators around the world to
secure their networks and protect their customers. Naturally some operators
move faster than others and those that are yet to act will know the
consequences of not protecting themselves and their subscribers against
potential attacks. Securing their networks should be the highest priority.”

Shockingly, almost a third (32 percent) of mobile subscribers never check their
balance or bill to verify that they have been correctly charged or to detect
possible suspicious activity on their account, with those aged between 31 and
50 least likely to check their monthly bills.

“Often these attacks can happen without the mobile user’s knowledge. With
fraud, the only indicator may be on the subscriber’s bill. However, we appear
to have considerable faith in mobile operators, hence why many of us may not
think to suspect any inaccuracies in bills: according to the research over two
thirds (69 percent) of subscribers questioned feel they are moderately well
protected by their service provider from fraudsters and hackers. Until the
network is properly secured, the operator is putting this significant amount of
customer loyalty at risk,” continued Windle.

In terms of which hacks would affect subscribers the most, over half of
subscribers felt like they would be severely or badly affected by a denial of
service attack (58 percent), fraudulent calls and SMS subscriptions
respectively (52 percent). Fraud is also the type of hack that subscribers feel
is most likely to happen to them, with 45 percent anticipating becoming a
victim of fraudulent calls made at their expense, and fraudulent registration
for premium SMS services (38 percent).

Subscribers also indicated that if they became a victim of mobile cybercrime,
nearly half (49 percent) would seek compensation from their mobile network
operator and a third (33 percent) would inform the telecom regulator. Worse
still, 29 percent would change their network provider either immediately (22
percent) or at the next renewal date (seven percent).

Windle added: “SS7 attacks leading to fraud are likely to impact subscribers
the most, and with consequential impact for the network operators in the form
of compensation claims or the loss of angry subscribers to competitors. With
security becoming a priority for consumers and enterprises alike, operators
have an opportunity to become the trusted provider by moving quickly to combat
potential exploitation. By implementing a comprehensive solution that is
powerful enough to secure all points of attack, not only blocking suspicious
activity but also using advanced analytics to help secure the network against
future attacks, the operator can detect, protect and secure their network
assets, data and ultimately their subscribers.”

Other key findings:

-- 22 percent of subscribers don’t implement any rules when they decide to
grant apps permission to access other features or data on their phone
-- Only eight percent would switch to apps to make calls and send messages
more securely than through traditional voice calls and SMS messages
-- 24 percent would change their number if attacked
-- 14 percent would report the hack on their social networks

“Despite a reasonable degree of awareness to potential threats, many
subscribers (42 percent) increase their exposure to risk by not checking bills
or not paying attention to app permissions. As subscribers, we need to take
more care and be more vigilant. However, cybercrime conducted through SS7
vulnerabilities in the network may be completely invisible to consumers. The
right place to tackle these threats is in the network, but right now many
networks are not adequately protected from potential signaling attacks. Now is
the time for the operators to join the fight against cybercrime,” concluded
Windle.

To highlight the findings of the research, Xura created an infographic which
explores the rise of mobile cybercrime, how mobile users are at risk, often
without their knowledge, and some practical tips everyone can take to better
protect themselves. To view the infographic, please click here:
http://bit.ly/MobileCybercrime

About the research
Carried out in Quarter Three 2016, the research was conducted by Xura via
Survey Monkey, and questioned 1,667 mobile network subscribers in the USA
(595), UK (535), and Australia (537). A breakdown of findings by country are
available on request.

About Xura, Inc.
Xura, Inc. offers a portfolio of digital services solutions that enable global
communications across a variety of mobile devices and platforms. We help
communication service providers and enterprises navigate and monetize the
digital ecosystem to create innovative, new experiences through our cloud-based
offerings. Our solutions touch more than three billion people through 350+
service providers and enterprises in 140+ countries. You can find us at
Xura.com.

Media Contact:
Maria Hudson
Xura
maria.hudson@xura.com

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