Communication Provider

Published on June 30th, 2020 | by Dr. Keith Bhatia

Lawful Intercept: The High-Risk Dilemma

“High-Risk” Providers

Recently, we’ve heard a lot about “high-risk” network equipment providers and their potential security vulnerabilities. There is a fear they may be used by Nation-States surveillance tools against companies or other nations. In some western countries, the debate and concern about using such providers has been significant. The debate becomes amplified when you consider that Huawei, who is the largest provider of telecommunication equipment globally, has systems deployed all over the world, including in the core of many western-based telecom operators.

If a nation decides to mandate all high-risk network infrastructure be removed, telecom providers are required to take on a significant and expensive undertaking.  They will need to replace components in multiple legacy network infrastructures, including 3G and 4G.  

However, as 5G starts to roll out, telecom operators with the guidance of government agencies, are deciding if they want to exclude certain vendors from participating in the new infrastructure projects all together, or just limit the scope of their involvement in the deployments.

The Dilemma

One of the reasons that high-risk network infrastructure is such a concern is that Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) often gather information from communication providers regarding a subject-of-interest (SOI). Lawful Intercept is a critical network functionality used by intelligence agencies to perform communication interception, mediation or monitoring.

Today, telecom operators deploy Lawful Intercept through a mediation platform that connects directly to the network elements. This is a requirement of every telecom license and it’s relatively inexpensive to do. For the system to work, every network element needs to be programmed with the SOIs information, which means the system is fully aware of ongoing Law Enforcement activity and pertinent data about the SOI. When it comes to high-risk infrastructure, this poses a real dilemma. 

Passive Lawful Intercept

However, there is an alternative solution with passive lawful interception, which does not connect directly to the network elements. Historically, this approach has been relatively expensive from the operator’s viewpoint, but with cloud-computing this is no longer the case.

Cloud infrastructure and new network designs allow for more elements to connect in a more efficient manner. This new architecture makes passive mediation a real option because it brings the price points to the same level as an active mediation platform and can expedite deployment.

After three years of providing passive mediation solutions in western markets, SS8, a leader in lawful intercept and lawful intelligence, has proven and secure solutions. Enabling operators to meet both their financial objectives and national security obligations and resolving the high-risk equipment in the network dilemma.

About Dr. Keith Bhatia

Keith Bhatia

As CEO of SS8, Keith combines his broad technical and market knowledge to advance the future of lawful intelligence. In his tenure, he has positioned SS8 as a leader in a world connected by 5G and shaped by increasing digitalization and automation. Keith is impassioned to show how technology can have a positive impact on our world.

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About SS8

SS8 provides Lawful Intelligence platforms.  They work closely with leading intelligence agencies, communication providers, law enforcement agencies and standards bodies.  Their technology incorporates the methodologies discussed in this blog and the Xcipio® and Intellego® XT product portfolios are used worldwide for the capture, analysis and delivery of data for the purposes of law enforcement investigations. Visit www.SS8.com for more information.

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