Report: Zero-Rating Fraudsters Use 300% More Data than Average Subscriber if Left Undetected
Waterloo, ON; April 19, 2017 – Sandvine, (TSX:SVC) a leading provider of intelligent broadband network solutions for fixed and mobile operators, today released a Global Internet Phenomena Report Spotlight focusing on Zero-Rating fraud. The report is based on data collected from a tier-1 mobile access network and examines how some subscribers on the network are using HTTP header injection to commit fraud and exploit the operator’s decision to zero-rate their website and subscriber portal.
Zero-rating is a data offering that benefits subscribers by enabling unlimited usage of one or many applications, services, or websites, for a fixed (or zero) price. This approach is often used by CSPs to differentiate their services and stand out from the competition while providing a valuable benefit to subscribers.
Recently, a small percentage of subscribers have begun to exploit zero-rated websites and applications by using a technique known as HTTP header injection. This fraudulent behavior is accomplished by using smartphone applications that masquerade non-zero-rated traffic as if it is sourced from a zero-rated site, allowing a subscriber to avoid related charges. Fortunately, with the right solution, such behavior can be quickly detected.
Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena Spotlight: Zero-Rating Fraud explores this issue in detail and contains a number of revelatory facts, the highlights of which include:
- On a tier-1operator’s 2G and 3G network, subscribers suspected of using HTTP header injection to commit fraud averaged 805MB of usage each month. This is more than 300% higher than the 2G and 3G network subscribers’ mean monthly usage.
- While only 1% of subscribers are suspected of committing fraud, they were responsible for 140 TB of total network traffic in a single month. The operator of this network believes zero-rating fraud could be responsible for 10% of total network traffic.
- The traffic composition of the suspected fraudulent traffic was very similar to the traffic composition of the region, with over 30% of the traffic being for the social applications Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram
- Left undetected, the zero-rating fraud could cost the operator examined more than $7M USD each month, based on the average cost of data for their pre-paid plans
“Sandvine has deployed zero-rated service plans for dozens of operators across the globe. As a result, we have gained an extraordinary understanding of how to identify, manage, and prevent the occurrence of zero-rating fraud,” said Don Bowman, CTO, Sandvine. “With growing recognition of the competitive differentiation offered by zero-rating plans, they have become much more commonplace. So, operators need to ensure that they are asking their vendors the tough questions on fraud prevention and revenue assurance to guarantee that their zero-rating plans are providing the full benefit to revenue that they expect.”
The Global Internet Phenomena Spotlight on zero-rating fraud, as well as a whitepaper examining best practices for fraud prevention, can be downloaded from the “Fraud Trends” page on Sandvine.com.
Sandvine’s network policy control solutions add intelligence to fixed, mobile and converged communications service provider networks, to increase revenue, reduce network costs and improve subscriber quality of experience. Our networking solutions perform end-to-end policy control functions, including traffic classification, policy decision, and enforcement. Deployed as virtualized network functions or on Sandvine’s purpose-built hardware, the products provide actionable business insight, and the ability to deploy new consumer and business subscriber services, optimize and secure network traffic, and engage with subscribers.
Sandvine’s network policy control solutions are deployed in more than 300 networks in over 100 countries, serving hundreds of millions of data subscribers worldwide. www.sandvine.com.
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