Grupo NGN, Inc. will complete rollout of STIR/SHAKEN attestation for all numbers by June 30, 2021. While many customers have already had their attestation registered some time ago, customers who asked to delay will automatically be “enabled” by June 30th in compliance with Federal regulations.

What is STIR/SHAKEN?  According to FCC.gov, “STIR/SHAKEN are acronyms for the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) and Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN) standards.”1  That’s a mouthful – what does it mean in simple terms?

Without over complicating it, think of the lock you commonly see on a secure website.  In most internet browsers, you will see an icon of a lock letting you know that site is secure.

The idea behind the lock is that it lets the user know that the browser, which the user is trusting, has evaluated this website and confirmed it is a valid and registered website.  But how does the browser make this determination?  SSL certificates are issued to websites (upon request) that, among other things, encrypt traffic to the site and act as a seal of approval of that site.  While these certificates are not designed to tell the consumer that this site is 100% safe and trustworthy, they at least signify that the owner of the site provided enough legal documentation to prove their identity.  Should they do anything illegal, the government would have enough information to positively identify and, if necessary, prosecute the responsible parties.

With STIR/SHAKEN, a similar process will be put in place where businesses can register their phone numbers with carriers.  When the carriers deliver these calls to the “called party”, the call will be delivered with one of the following attestation levels:

A. Full attestation. An A-level attestation conveys a strong level of trust. With this level, an originating carrier is saying, “The caller is my customer. I gave them this telephone number. This call originated on my network.”

B. Partial attestation. By assigning a B-level attestation, an originating carrier is communicating, “The caller is my customer and this call originated on my network. However, I do not know who assigned the number to the calling device.”

C. Gateway attestation. In this case, the originating carrier is the entry point of the call into its VoIP network and has no relationship with the initiator of the call. This will often be the case with international gateways. A C-level attestation communicates, “This call originated outside my network.” The call’s phone number might be spoofed—a potential risk signal. 2

Ideally, everyone will want an A level attestation.  Grupo NGN is proud to announce that it has worked with all upstream carriers of outbound traffic to guarantee an “A” level attestation – even for numbers not purchased from our carrier services.  For customers out pulsing caller IDs they did not acquire from Grupo NGN, they will need to contact a support representative to ensure those numbers are properly registered.  Otherwise, they will most likely gain a “B” level attestation automatically.

What is the purpose?

STIR/SHAKEN was introduced in an attempt to reduce the number of outbound calls from undesirable sources.  STIR/SHAKEN will put a greater burden on call originators and phone companies to verify traffic they allow across their network.  At some point, calls that carry “C” level attestation calls may automatically be blocked from delivery.

How can this benefit the legitimate contact center?

Aside from protecting everyone as a consumer, there is another benefit to contact centers when they utilize this technology.  While there are many unknowns about how the algorithms work, we have heard from many experts in the industry that fully attested calls will see a decreased likelihood of falling victim to blocking and labeling of their legitimate outbound traffic.  Partially attested (B) calls may also see a similar benefit as well.  In short, this may be a potential method of restoring faith in calling for many legitimate parties, and it may also ease the legislative burden being posed by many states overregulating calling practices in an effort to block the bad actors that are so prominent today.

1https://www.fcc.gov/call-authentication#:~:text=STIR%2FSHAKEN%20are%20acronyms%20for,Using%20toKENs%20(SHAKEN)%20standards.

2https://www.home.neustar/blog/stir-shaken-attestation-is-not-inbound-caller-authentication

Isaac Shloss

Isaac Shloss

Chief Technology Officer at Grupo NGN

Isaac Shloss is an Information Technology specialist with more than 20 years of experience – almost exclusively focused on the Contact Center industry.  The majority of his carrier has been spent managing the IT departments for large BPOs, including a top 10 US teleservices provider where he built the technology and telecommunications architecture needed to expand the small, regionally-based company to a large, multinational enterprise. Isaac was an early pioneer and administrator of the contact center platform now known as NGNCloudComm, and he is now a part of the manufacturer’s executive management team in the role of Chief Technology Officer.  At Grupo NGN, he is focused on enhancing the user experience through education development, customer support, and implementation, and converting emerging business needs into standard product features.  Isaac regularly speaks at conventions and webinars regarding technological trends, compliance, and best practices around the contact center industry.

 Isaac is also heavily involved with PACE, an industry association dedicated to the advocacy and advancement of the customer engagement industry.   Isaac serves as a member of PACE’s National Board of Directors, and he is a member of the Compliance Officers Forum and Government Affairs Committee (GAC).  In the GAC, Isaac serves as Vice-Chair, where he tracks legislation that affects our industry, calls the member base to action, and drafts opinion letters to lawmakers on behalf of the association when needed.  Additionally, Isaac is PACE’s representative to the FCC, serving as a member of both the North American Numbering Council (NANC) and Numbering Administrative Oversight Working Group (NAOWG).