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  • Writer's pictureJonathan P

Unveiling STIR/SHAKEN: A Definitive Shield Against Robocalls

Updated: Nov 17, 2023


In a world where technology connects us seamlessly, unwanted robocalls have become an unfortunate side effect. The incessant ringing of our phones with prerecorded messages and spam calls has led to an urgent need for a solution. Enter STIR/SHAKEN, a powerful framework designed to combat the menace of illegal robocalls and restore trust in telephone communication.

Understanding the Menace

Robocalls have plagued telephone networks for years, causing frustration and inconvenience to consumers worldwide. Scammers exploit vulnerabilities in the traditional phone system, employing techniques like caller ID spoofing to trick individuals into answering calls they would otherwise ignore. The rise of voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) technology has only exacerbated the problem, making it easier for fraudsters to manipulate caller information.

The Birth of STIR/SHAKEN

STIR (Secure Telephone Identity Revisited) and SHAKEN (Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs) emerged as a joint initiative between the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS). The goal was clear: create a framework that verifies the authenticity of caller IDs and makes it much more difficult for malicious actors to engage in caller ID spoofing.


At its core, STIR/SHAKEN is a digital signature system for voice calls. It validates the authenticity of the caller ID by using cryptographic certificates. Here's a simplified breakdown of how the process works:

  1. Identity Verification (STIR): The originating service provider (OSP) verifies the caller's identity and generates a digital signature for the call.

  2. Signature Attachment (SHAKEN): The signature, along with the call's metadata, is attached to the call (usually in the form of a SIP header).

  3. Verification (STIR): The receiving service provider (RSP) uses the digital signature to verify the call's authenticity. If the signature is valid, the call is marked as verified.

  4. Display (SHAKEN): The verification status is then conveyed to the end user, typically through the caller ID display on their phone. Calls that fail verification may be flagged or blocked.

Benefits of STIR/SHAKEN

  1. Trust Restoration: By implementing STIR/SHAKEN, the telecommunications industry aims to rebuild trust in phone calls. When consumers see a verified call, they can have confidence in the displayed caller ID.

  2. Reduced Fraud: The framework significantly hampers the ability of fraudsters to spoof caller IDs, making it more difficult for them to carry out scams and phishing attempts.

  3. Enhanced Consumer Protection: STIR/SHAKEN empowers consumers with information about the legitimacy of incoming calls, enabling them to make informed decisions and avoid potential scams.

Challenges and Future Considerations

While STIR/SHAKEN is a formidable weapon against robocalls, challenges persist. The framework relies on widespread adoption, and smaller service providers may face hurdles in implementing the necessary infrastructure. Additionally, the dynamic nature of technology means that new challenges may emerge, requiring continuous updates to the system.

In Conclusion

STIR/SHAKEN represents a significant step forward in the ongoing battle against illegal robocalls. Its implementation signifies a collective effort by the telecommunications industry to prioritize consumer protection and restore confidence in phone communication. As the framework continues to gain traction, we can look forward to a future where answering the phone is once again a reliable and secure experience.

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