By Neil Cook, head of technology services at Cloudmark
The Rich Communications Suite (RCS) boasts services that will potentially transform the way users communicate with friends and family. If deployed correctly, they could open new revenue streams to operators.
However, in order to take advantage of the potential of RCS, operators will need to be aware of the security implications and adjust their infrastructure accordingly.
RCS has for some time been touted as a means for operators to gain a foothold in the unified messaging platform and presence markets. A collaborative industry effort, RCS is intended to offer users a rapidly deployable set of standards and features, such as enriched calling (sharing multimedia during a call), enhanced messaging and an enhanced phonebook with presence capabilities.
While a number of trials have been conducted in Europe by operators such as Bouygues Telecom, Orange, SFR and Telefonica, there is still a degree of industry scepticism about whether RCS will take off as an initiative or whether over-the-top services such as Google and WhatsApp will hinder its adoption.
Today, there are over five billion active mobile connections globally, all with the capability to leverage the SMS channel. Whilst this advantage provides operators with the opportunity to surpass the other OTT services and grow existing revenue streams and customer base, it also provides scammers with a significant opportunity to defraud consumers.
Like any new service introduced to the mobile platform, RCS provides mobile operators with a challenge – allowing consumers to adopt the services whilst maintaining a clean, threat-free communication channel.
If RCS is to take off, security will be fundamental to its success. With RCS offering an enhanced messaging platform that allows users to send messages to both individuals and groups at any given time, the ROI and convenience of the service can be easily exploited by scammers.
Operators must acknowledge this threat if they want to offer innovative services without putting their subscribers at risk of messaging abuse and fraud.
The potential for operators to drive new revenue streams with RCS is great, but by no means guaranteed. As mobile becomes the primary gateway to internet access, threats directed at this channel will naturally increase and become more sophisticated.
With mobile malware and SMS spam now on the rise and scammers focusing their attention away from email to mobile, operators will need to ensure that their security infrastructure is robust enough to protect against messaging-based threats that may proliferate through RCS.
If operators are able to retain a clean and safe communication channel for subscribers while maintaining its intimate and personal nature, consumers will have the confidence to utilise new mobile services that will drive long-term revenue growth for the operators.
Operators must provide their subscribers with the ability to alert their providers of any form of messaging spam and fraud. Offering short codes such as 7726 (S-P-A-M) for subscribers to report threats, as well as regularly assessing the security of their networks, will help operators combat the proliferation of mobile fraud and spam and keep their subscribers happy.