Feeds

Voice-routing call fingerprint system fights 'vishing'

'Actually, I don't think my bank has a Lagos call centre'

High performance access to file storage

Security researchers in the States say they have developed a cunning new method of "fingerprinting" voice calls that could offer a route to trustworthy caller ID and a barrier against so-called "vishing" or voice phishing.

The tool is called PinDr0p, and works by analysing the various characteristic noise artifacts left in audio by the different types of voice network - cellular, VoIP etc. For instance, packet loss leaves tiny gaps in audio signals, too brief for the human ear to detect, but quite perceptible to the PinDr0p algorithms. Vishers and others wishing to avoid giving away the origin of a call will often route a call through multiple different network types.

“There’s a joke: ‘On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog'. Now that’s moving to phones,” says Mustaque Ahamad of the Georgia Institute of Technology. “The need is obvious to build security into these voice systems ... PinDr0p needs no additional detection infrastructure; all it uses is the sound you hear on the phone.”

According to the system's inventors, there's no way for vishers or other voicey villains to eliminate the traces a given system of call routing leaves in the audio eventually received at the other end.

“They’re not able to add the kind of noise we’re looking for to make them sound like somebody else,” says Patrick Traynor, GIT compsci prof. “There’s no way for a caller to reduce packet loss. There’s no way for them to say to the cellular network, ‘Make my sound quality better.’”

The PinDr0p analysis can't produce an IP address or geographical location for a given caller, but once it has a few calls via a given route, it can subsequently recognise further calls via the same route with a high degree of accuracy: 97.5 per cent following three calls and almost 100 per cent after five.

Naturally a visher can change routings easily, but even so PinDr0p can potentially reveal details that will reveal a given call as being false. A call which has passed through a Russian cell network and P2P VoIP is unlikely to really be from your high-street bank in the UK, for instance.

The GIT researchers hope to develop a database of different signatures which would let their system provide a geolocation as well as routing information in time.

“This is the first step in the direction of creating a truly trustworthy caller ID,” says Traynor.

The PinDr0p research was funded by the US National Science Foundation. There's a statement on it here. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.