Pindrop Reveals More than Half of all Robocalls Originate from 38 High-Risk Sources

Previously undetectable scammers exposed through Pindrop Phoneprinting technology 

LAS VEGAS, NV- (August 05, 2016) – Pindrop, the pioneer in voice-fraud prevention and authentication, revealed new research at Black Hat USA 2016 that showed more than half of 100,000 robocalls originate from just 38 high-risk sources. The Black Hat session, hosted by Pindrop Labs Research Scientist Aude Marzuoli, provided an in-depth look at the most menacing trends and calling patterns of the telephony channel tracked via Pindrop’s phoneprinting capabilities and the company’s telephony honeypot, the largest in the industry.

“Leveraging our telephony honeypot and call analysis technology, we were able to use real calls to conduct this one-of-a-kind study,” Marzuoli said.

Contrary to existing blacklisting methods, which simply block phone numbers previously used by attackers, Pindrop analyzed call semantics, call audio features and calling patterns to find scammers regardless of the phone number used.

Pindrop’s state-of-the-art machine learning techniques on call transcriptions and calling patterns to cluster identical robocalls, combined with the company’s phoneprinting technology, enabled the team to identify which calls originated from the same telephony infrastructures.

Marzuoli added, “This new methodology enables us to uncover relationships between thousands of apparently unrelated phone numbers that are, in fact, operated by the same phone scammers.”

Key research points:

  • Data driven results show 51 percent of the robocalls recorded originated from just 38 high-risk source infrastructures.
  • Even if robocallers spoof their phone numbers or hide behind “anonymous” or “restricted” caller id, their phoneprint uniquely identifies them.

Marzuoli’s research included monitoring more than 1 million calls placed to a honeypot by over 200,000 source phone numbers over five months. Out of these calls, Pindrop sampled over 100,000 for recording and analysis. This new knowledge was also shared with the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to help lay a stronger foundation and stop robocalls from being a source of criminal activity.

“Knowing that the bulk of calls come from a small number of telephony infrastructures will allow telcos and law enforcement to get one step closer to eliminating telephony fraud,” said CEO Vijay Balasubramaniyan. “This is the first time anyone has been able to deliver insights like this with confidence. We believe this is a major step in protecting consumers from fraud and identity theft.”

Session Information: More information can be found here.

About Pindrop

Pindrop is the pioneer in voice fraud prevention and authentication. Pindrop provides enterprise solutions to reduce fraud losses and authentication expense for some of the largest call centers in the world. Pindrop’s patented Phoneprinting™ technology can identify, locate and authenticate phone devices uniquely just from the call audio thereby detecting fraudulent calls as well as verifying legitimate callers. Pindrop has been selected by the world’s largest banks, insurers, brokerages and retailers, detecting over 80% of fraud, even for attackers never seen before. Pindrop’s solutions are allowing customers to reduce call time and improve their customers’ experience even while reducing fraud losses. Pindrop was founded in 2011 and is venture backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Citi Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Google Capital, GV and IVP. In total, Pindrop has raised $122 million.


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