Emerging Trends in Cybersecurity

Since time immemorial the world has been concerned with security. Until the digital age, there has been a greater emphasis on physical security. With Digital Security, there is a concern about how computing, software, and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in general may impact both the physical world as well as digital assets.

Digital Security consists of many things including leveraging ICT systems to monitor and control assets as well as the protection of digital assets with the latter often being referred to as Cybersecurity.

After personnel, most companies claim data as their greatest asset. The 21st century is witnessing increasingly more frequent and sophisticated cyber-threats upon corporate data, causing a strain on both the security of corporate systems as well as the privacy and security of their customers and entire supply chain.

Accordingly, major corporations will invest billions in cybersecurity products and services during the next decade. Over this same period there will also be a significant build-out of digital infrastructure including those that rely upon various Cloud Technology elements. Emerging technologies in the areas of Big Data, Analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will all need Cybersecurity protection.

In addition, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is emerging as both as supporting technology for Cybersecurity as well as an area that will require protection as AI will increasingly be relied upon for important decisions, many of which will be made autonomously in the background, unbeknownst to many businesses and almost all consumers.

We see Cybersecurity as one of the key foundation technologies for the early 21st century along with AI, Big Data, IoT, and ongoing improvements in Broadband Wireless such as 5G.

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Understanding Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a signaling protocol used for a variety of purposes in IP networks.

SIP is principally a mechanism employed to seamlessly create, modify and terminate sessions involving multiple participants. Such sessions could be Internet telephone calls, multimedia conferences or multicast sessions. SIP can work with any type of media content. SIP is independent of the transport layer and can therefore be used with multiple transport protocols as TCP, UDP or SCTP.

The IMS components can be implemented using SIP agents and application servers. SIP was designed in 1996 and specified by International Engineering Task Force (IETF).

SIP is an application-layer protocol. It runs above the User Datagram Protocol (UDP). SIP is used for starting, modifying and ending communication, conference and collaborative sessions on the platform of Internet Protocol (IP) networks. SIP helps users to invite other participants to an existing session where the participants may be persons, automated service or a physical device such as a handset.

The SIP session has four key components:

  • SIP User Agents
  • SIP Register Servers
  • SIP Proxy Servers
  • SIP Redirect Servers

These components are of vital importance to IMS as they are commonly employed to instantiate IMS components. The SIP components work in tandem for the delivery of messages after defining their content and characteristics, thus completing a SIP session.

The SIP User Agents (UA) are the devices which are used by the end users. These devices could be PCs, PDAs etc. that are capable of supporting the SIP session. The User Agent is present in the form of a client in the UE and in the form of a server in the network infrastructure. The message is created by the User Agent Client and the response to this message is given by the User Agent Server.

SIP Registrar Servers are the databases that hold the data concerning the User Agents in a domain. These servers obtain and send the IP addresses of the participants and also other information to the SIP Proxy Server.

SIP Proxy Servers accept session requests made by SIP UAs. Proxy Servers obtain the UA’s addressing information from the SIP Registrar server. If the recipient UA resides in the same domain, then this information thus retrieved is forwarded to the recipient UA. If the recipient UA resides in another domain, then the information retrieved is passed on to a Proxy Server.

SIP Redirect Server passes on the SIP session invitation to the external domains. The SIP redirect servers are located in the SIP Registrar Servers and SIP Proxy Servers.

SIP is essential to IMS as it is used for signaling between various IMS network elements for control and orchestration.

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Understanding Voice over LTE (VoLTE)

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) represents a standards-based method for achieving true all-IP voice communications. Prior to VoLTE, a portion of voice calls may have traversed over IP, but the radio link (e.g. the RF channel) was not IP-based). With VoLTE, LTE is leveraged in conjunction with IMS using specific profiles for control and media planes of voice service on LTE defined by GSMA.

In the new LTE Radio and Evolved Packet Core (EPC) architecture, there is no circuit-switched domain to handle voice calls in the traditional 2G/3G way. There is a need for a Voice over VoLTE solution that enables use of the 4G packet based bandwidth.
There are many issues and challenges with 4G from a technology and operational perspective. One of those issues is spotty coverage. To manage this issue, VoLTE is dependent upon the Service Centralized and Continuity Application Server (SCC).

The SCC is an IMS Application Server (AS) that provides functionality required to enable IMS Centralized Services and Service Continuity for multi-media sessions. The SCC AS is in the signaling path of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) messaging and is the connection point for packet bearer media. When the target wireless device is crossing over into an area that does not have sufficient 4G/LTE coverage, the SCC AS manages hand-over to 3G for voice.

Voice over LTE Alternative: CSFB uses 3G

VoLTE is not to be confused with so called Circuit Switched Fallback (CSFB) solutions. CSFB is known by its 3GPP designation as specification 23.272. It uses various network elements and procedures to move the handset radio down to 2G or normal 3G connection, before initiating a circuit-switched voice call.

Therefore, the terminology of fallback is somewhat of a misnomer as there is no handover with a CSFB solution. Instead, all voice calls start on 3G.

CSFB requires modifications to existing elements within the network (MSCs) as well as specific support on new devices.

Voice over LTE Alternative: VoLGA uses Circuits with LTE

Another alternative solution for voice over LTE that was discussed is the so called Voice over LTE Generic Access (LGA) or VoLGA solution. VoLGA relies upon establishing a virtual circuit within the LTE packet bandwidth. Therefore, like CSFB, VoLGA is not 4G packet based but rather uses a circuit connection.

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Understanding IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)

IP Multimedia Subsystem Introduction

IMS is an intelligent services platform which supports the delivery of multimedia applications and content across both wireless and wireline networks. IMS also provides for multiple, simultaneous sessions across one or more devices enabling greater user control over access to information.

IMS is the core network technology that promises to transform communications, blending services for users, and even blending their lifestyles. However, this transformation of networks and services is taking longer than many people familiar with the technology anticipated.

The need for IMS has been driven by many factors including convergence in many areas including:

  • Convergence of Technologies: IP is the common network protocol
  • Convergence of Networks: Wireless and wireline networks sharing nodes
  • Convergence of Access: Handsets that access more than one network
  • Convergence of Services: Features that follow the user across networks
  • Convergence of Content: Access the same content across multiple networks
  • Convergence of Revenue: User’s demand is divided across fixed and mobile
  • Convergence of Control: Customer control over service provider features

At its core, IMS is relied upon for certain core services such as Voice over LTE (VoLTE).

However, the hope for IMS is that it would also become a Value-added Service (VAS) application enabler.

IMS Architecture, Framework, and Databases

Both wireless and wireline networks throughout the telecom industry have traditionally been highly vertically integrated. Each network contained all the required network nodes and support systems for billing and services separate from other networks. This level of network separation was often repeated geographically within each network as well, with separate networks built in adjacent geographic markets.

In each case, each vertically integrated network contained its own access network elements (base stations, cell sites), switches (TDM circuit switching), gateways and customer authentication and control nodes such as the Home Location Register (HLR). The various support systems used for provisioning, billing and vertical features (voice mail) were also dedicated separately to wireline and wireless networks.

IMS Architecture, Framework, and Databases

Both wireless and wireline networks throughout the telecom industry have traditionally been highly vertically integrated. Each network contained all the required network nodes and support systems for billing and services separate from other networks. This level of network separation was often repeated geographically within each network as well, with separate networks built in adjacent geographic markets.

In each case, each vertically integrated network contained its own access network elements (base stations, cell sites), switches (TDM circuit switching), gateways and customer authentication and control nodes such as the Home Location Register (HLR). The various support systems used for provisioning, billing and vertical features (voice mail) were also dedicated separately to wireline and wireless networks.

IMS Planes

The IMS architecture is organized into three functional planes:

  • Services Plane: contains the content and administrative platforms including media servers with media content, billing systems and application servers.
  • Control Plane: This Plane contains all the call control and authentication functions for call setup, hand-offs, and billing recording.
  • Transport Plane: The Network (or Transport) Plane contains all the traditional network switching and transport nodes found in today’s wireline and wireless networks and is the point of interconnection for next generation networks and devices.

One of the central tenants of IMS is that it is device independent. IMS relies heavily upon Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) for signaling and control. As long as an end-point and/or device is SIP-capable, it will theoretically work in an IMS environment.

SIP works in conjunction with the Session Description Protocol (SDP) to initiate multimedia sessions. SDP describes multimedia session functions such as session initiation and session announcement. SIP is used to establish sessions according to the following general steps.

IMS Network Elements

The IMS core network consists of the following key components:

  • Home Subscriber Server (HSS): The HSS is analogous to the Home Location Register (HLR) as employed by CDMA and GSM operators. The HSS employs the Subscriber Location Function (SLF) to map addresses and users. It is essentially a user database. The user can be identified through a combination of International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI), Temporary Mobile Subscriber Identity (TMSI), International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) and Mobile Subscriber ISDN Number (MSISDN); in a similar fashion as that of present day mobile networks. Additionally, the HSS also employs the SIP based Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI) such as IP Multimedia Private Identity (IMPI) and IP Multimedia Public Identity (IMPU).
  • Call Session Control Function (CSCF): The CSCFs are SIP application servers. Different types of CSCFs are Proxy CSCF (P-CSCF), Serving CSCF (S-CSCF) and Interrogating CSCF (I-CSCF). P-CSCF forms the first point of contact with the IMS user. It handles user registration, user authentication, signaling message inspection, policy control, quality assurance and similar functions. P-CSCF can be present in the home as well as visitor networks. S-CSCF manages the session control functions. Present in the home location, its chief function is to invoke the user identity parameters from the HSS. The HSS assigns an S-CSCF when queried by I-CSCF. Specifically, the S-CSCF handles binding of user location and SIP address, numbering look-ups, message routing and similar functions. I-CSCF interfaces IMS networks to each other. It acts as a forwarding point.
  • Media and Application Servers: The media servers are the workhorses of the network and handle functions such as media mixing, manipulation and management. The media server is implemented through a SIP User Agent and is known as Media Resource Function Controller (MRFC) and Media Resource Function Processor (MRFP) respectively. In addition to the CSCF functionality, the SIP application servers also handle the functioning of individual applications and services. It is this flexibility of the application server arrangement that makes IMS agile and scalable for services deployment. The application servers can be in the home network or in third party application provider domains.
  • Gateway Functions: Gateway functions manage interfacing IMS networks with non-IMS networks. These could be break-out gateways or PSTN gateways.
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Understanding SS7 and Intelligent Networks

What is Signaling System Seven (SS7)?

SS7 is a critical component of modern telecommunications systems. SS7 is a communications protocol that provides signaling and control for various network services and capabilities. Being a layered protocol, SS7 provides various protocol levels for connection oriented and connectionless (database) signaling in fixed and mobile networks.

  • Transaction Capabilities Application Part (TCAP): TCAP is the portion of the SS7 protocol stack utilized for transport of the payload of other application processes
  • ISDN User Part (ISUP): ISUP is a form of connection oriented signaling used for call set-up

While the Internet, wireless data, and related technologies have captured the attention of millions, many forget or do not realize the importance of SS7. Every call in every Public Switched Telecommunications Network (PSTN) system is dependent on SS7. Likewise, every mobile phone user is dependent on SS7 to allow inter-network roaming. SS7 is also the “glue” that sticks together circuit switched (traditional) networks with packet-switched (IP based) networks.

Origins of SS7

Common Channel Signaling Network (CCSN) technology was introduced in the mid-1970s to improve trunk signaling (e.g. signaling for call set up involving inter-office facilities). Prior to CCSN, trunk signaling was performed via multi-frequency. After the introduction of CCSN, this form of signaling would be referred to as “in-band” signaling.

The early form of CCSN was known as Common Channel Signaling number Six (CCS6) and was used within the AT&T toll network for trunk signaling. It was also used by AT&T to provide great efficiency for their In-WATS (incoming Wide-Area Telephone Service) offering, the original version of toll-free calling, which at the time was available only to AT&T prior to portability of 800 numbers.

In the 1980s, a new CCSN protocol known as Signaling System number Seven (SS7), was developed and deployed. Telephone companies soon realized the advantages in SS7 that surpassed improvements in trunk signaling and it became the vehicle for signaling to databases and other platforms associated with enhanced services enabling the advent of intelligent networking. Variations of SS7 are now the standard through the world.

SS7 Network Elements

Networks elements involved in SS7 include the following examples:

  • Service Control Point (SCP): SCPs are usually deployed in pairs. They are the brains of the SS7 network – where service logic resides
  • Signal Transfer Point (STP): STPs are always deployed in pairs. They are the backbone of the SS7 network – routes signals to network nodes.
  • Service Switching Point (SSP): By definition, an SSP is a switch that is intelligent network capable, meaning that they have software logic and triggering necessary to invoke SS7 messages based on events as well as respond to SS7 messages received to affect call control.

More SS7 Information

Do you have questions about SS7, intelligent networks, or SS7/IN based applications and services?

Intelligent Networks

The term “Intelligent Network” (IN) pertains to a framework for intelligence in support of Time Division Multiplex (TDM) circuit-switched networks. As opposed to IP-based networks, typified by intelligence at the edge and very flat, democratized communications, IN provides support for carrier-controlled networks with intelligence residing in centralized databases.

Inter-system Signaling

There are two major types of inter-system signaling for mobile/cellular database signaling: GSM Mobile Application Part (MAP) and ANSI-41. GSM MAP is the standard utilized for GSM and ANSI-41 is the inter-system standard for other mobile networks including CDMA. Both ANSI-41 and GSM MAP rely upon SS7 as a signaling protocol and both support intelligent network operations in terms of subscriber registration, roaming, and service profile portability.

Intelligent Network Standards for Cellular

The two recognized global standards for IN in mobile/cellular networks are Wireless Intelligent Network (WIN) and Customized Applications for Mobile Enhanced Logic (CAMEL). WIN and CAMEL are the standards used to provide network intelligence in ANSI-41 and GSM networks respectively. The two standards are similar in the sense that they achieve the same high-level technical and business goals. Both WIN and CAMEL rely upon SS7 as a signaling protocol.

Wireless Intelligent Network (WIN)

As WIN standards have been introduced, accepted and evolved, they have become part of the core ANSI-41 standards. In contrast, the GSM CAMEL Application Part (CAP) represents that portion of the GSM standard that uses CAMEL, and will remain a separate yet associated standard to the core GSM networking standard, GSM MAP.

WIN is based on an open industry standard that enables equipment from different suppliers to interoperate successfully, and allows automatic roaming between various networks. The WIN standard is part of the ANSI-41 family of standards, which allows additional capabilities to any existing ANSI-41-based network within an open vendor environment, to ensure full interoperability with third-party products and services.

Customized Applications for Mobile Enhanced Logic (CAMEL)

Finalized in 1997, CAMEL phase I introduced improved capabilities as mobile operators could begin to offer services and features to their customers that could work while roaming. This initial version of CAMEL represented an improvement over previous GSM systems that relied upon the Intelligent Network Application Part (INAP). This is because INAP is an IN protocol designed for fixed networks and accordingly has many limitations for use in mobile/cellular networks.

Intelligent Network Conceptual Model (INCM)

WIN and CAMEL are both based on the same Intelligent Network Conceptual Model (INCM). The INCM represents an architectural framework and certain capabilities, not services. Similarly, WIN and CAMEL call models represent high-level models of call control functionality that define capabilities, not the services themselves.

The call model makes information concerning the call state and associated data visible to external intelligent network elements such as the SCP and HLR so they can use their logic to process the call. Because the service logic and call switching functionality are separated, external intelligent network elements can control services.

All intelligent networking for telecommunications involves the concept of a “query/response” system. This system entails the notion of intelligence residing in a remote database that is queried for information necessary for call processing.

For example, a Mobile Switching Center (MSC) equipped with WIN or CAMEL call logic, can launch a message or “query” to a database hosted by a network element called a Service Control Point (SCP). The SCP processes the request and issues a “response” to the MSC so that it may continue call processing as appropriate.

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Wireless Waypoint Business and Technical Advisory Services

ICT Advisory Services

Wireless Waypoint offers business and technical advisory services within its areas of expertise to high-tech businesses with an emphasis on the ICT industry.

Visit the Wireless Waypoint Services page to learn more

Wireless Waypoint will sometimes work with the early stage business within a differed compensation model, which will usually consist of equity and/or deferred cash.

Who Needs ICT Advisory Services?

  • Entrepreneurs/Founders
  • Angels/VC’s/Lenders/Bankers
  • CEO/COO/CFO and other executives
  • Prospective Investors and/or Acquirers

We provide unbiased, third-party information and opinion, often needed at crucial decision points during the business life cycle.

ICT Business Advisory Services

  • Wireless Waypoint can help determine your company’s business prospects through its experience, business analysis, and market research
  • Wireless Waypoint will evaluate and/or develop your business plan and market strategy, optimizing it for success
  • Wireless Waypoint will help your organization prepare for funding, development, launch, and exit strategy

ICT Technical Advisory Services

  • Wireless Waypoint will determine if your concept, product, service, and/or business is technically viable, providing direction, and if need be, corrective recommendations and ongoing guidance
  • Wireless Waypoint will assist with intellectual property formation and management crucial to developing and protecting company innovation

Other Services

Wireless Waypoint also provides expert consulting services to clients in need of domain expertise.

While Advisory Services are typically needed during the start-up phase for business, services are sometimes required in the later stages of business such as the acquisition, merger, or IPO stage.  For example, does your business need “virtual staff” or interim management during the start-up phase?

Contact Wireless Waypoint

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Wireless Waypoint Writing Services

Wireless Waypoint offers various Writing Services including technical and/or marketing white paper development.

Serious decision makers read white papers to form business and/or technical opinions and before making a final decision for a vendor, product or service

Do you need a technical or marketing white paper for your business/organization, product or service?

We can take care of your marketing or technical document requirements:

  • Write your next white paper
  • Update an existing white paper
  • Finish or professionally edit a white paper

Contact Us to learn more

 

 

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