The rising tide of A2P SMS fraud

Every year, A2P messaging grows more popular. Enterprises and their customers choose the SMS channel for its simplicity, immediacy and directness. Regrettably, so do fraudsters.

According to a 2019 report by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, criminality cost the telco industry an estimated €10.6 billion ($12 billion). The fraud types included international revenue share fraud, PBX hacking, roaming fraud, interconnect bypass, SIM box, spoofing, signalling attacks, grey routes, spam and smishing.

Combating this activity is time-consuming. It adds up to a huge number of incidents. A 2019 report by Communications Fraud Control Association disclosed that more operators with between one million and 10 million subscribers each deal with more than 10,000 incidents per month.

During the pandemic, the A2P market flourished as businesses and consumers across all verticals adopted digital habits. But the ugly flip side of this boom was a dramatic increase in related criminal activity. In 2021, a Mobileum study revealed that 75 percent of operators reported facing new and emerging telco fraud.

How costly was this?

According to MEF and Mobilesquared, the business messaging market was worth $19.4 billion in 2021. But it lost $7.9 billion to grey routes alone. That’s equivalent to a loss of $10.5 million per MNO.

For the end-user, the most potent threat is arguably smishing, in which the victim wrongfully trusts the criminal’s SMS and shares some personal information. Reports of smishing attacks in the UK grew by more than 700 percent in the first six months of 2021, said data from consumer group ‘Which?’ and Proofpoint. Perhaps surprisingly, young people are most at risk. A UK study found a quarter of young people trust scam messages, with Gen Z twice as likely than the older generation to be smished.

GTC experts understand the nature of these threats and the best defences against them. We can advise on firewalls and other methods in the ongoing fight against bypass and grey routes. If you are interested in getting access to our services and advice, don’t hesitate to contact us.