Uncategorized / March 17, 2015

Q&A with Ian Howells, Chief Marketing Officer at Argyle Data

At the 2015 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, we had the chance to talk with Ian Howells, Chief Marketing Officer at Argyle Data, to discuss their role with Gigamon in helping carriers fight fraud while preserving revenue. Here’s what he had to say.

Q) Tell us about the fraud market as it applies to carriers?

According to the Communications Fraud Control Association, fraud costs $46 billion per year, which equates to about 2 percent of all carrier revenue. Not only does this have a massive impact on the carrier’s bottom line, but also it negatively impacts their brand and their customers. Fraud directly affects subscribers, creates customer churn, increases calls to support, and adds to the costs of customer acquisition and retention. And, like enterprise attacks and breaches, we see carrier fraud growing rapidly and becoming more and more sophisticated. Fraudsters are no longer just clever individuals; instead, many of them are organized, well funded, highly skilled and extremely sophisticated, criminal syndicates working around the globe.

Q) So tell us, how does Argyle Data bring a new approach to stopping carrier fraud?

What’s amazing is how much has changed in the carrier market over the last five years, and if carriers are using the same approaches as three years ago, they are leaving the door open to attack. One key issue boils down to how quickly can carriers analyze their data streams in order to detect and prevent fraud. We are seeing a shift to real-time analysis of packets. Batch processing of data files no longer works, and cybercriminals know that batch processing of data means that they have a 24-hour window of free rein before any analysis can be conducted. That’s enough time for criminals to complete their attack and move on to the next carrier. Adding to that, cybercriminals have developed the skills to stay under the radar and stealthily work around common security technologies, such as rules. Criminals are able to manipulate rules and either stay “under the rules radar” or intentionally trigger rules to overwhelm a fraud team with false positives while they attack elsewhere. Also, by definition rules detect existing known types of fraud when in reality new unknown attacks are continually happening. Argyle Data is a real-time fraud detection and analytics application built from the ground up on Hadoop that uses the latest big data, machine learning and anomaly detection technology.

Q) So, why did you partner with Gigamon?

Because Argyle Data analyzes packets in real time, we needed a partner that could intelligently feed our system a tremendous amount of data at once. As well, it was important that our fraud analytics engine be able to filter only on specific types of packets and sessions. Additionally, Gigamon is an ideal partner because they understand the communications service provider market. They have a deep understanding of unique, telco types of packets that we need, as well as the ability to inspect encrypted packets.

Q) What are the carrier benefits?

By teaming together, carriers gain a solution that that enables them to discover fraud, not detected by existing pre-big data systems, but by detecting fraud in minutes vs. days, which dramatically reduces false positives and saves millions of dollars. Gigamon consolidates data across multiple data centers by intelligently filtering packets to feed into Argyle Data’s fraud detection and analytics system. This approach not only detects fraud in real-time but allows SS7 security analytics, which is a major topic for carriers since the headlines that came out in December 2014.

We believe that by intelligently grabbing network packets coupled with our machine learning capabilities on a massive scale, we can deliver the approaches used by Google and Facebook, to protect their subscribers, to mobile carriers and service providers.


Ian Howells, thank you. And, if anyone is interested in learning more about Telecom Fraud there is an eBook – “Telecom Fraud 101: Fraud Types, Fraud Methods and Fraud Technology” which was at the Gigamon stand in Barcelona; it is now available at:

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