Research to restore trust in telephones

Robocalls: Everyone’s problem

The telephone network is an ever-evolving technical marvel that we take for granted. The public switched telephone network connects practically every household and business in the entire world. The Internet similarly connects people worldwide, but person-to-person communications are split across dozens of different systems, protocols, and apps. Not everyone has a Twitter, Facebook, or even an email account, but they certainly have a telephone number that can receive voice calls and SMS.

It’s this universal connectivity that makes it so attractive to scammers and swindlers: they can ply their trade through one inexpensive channel at impressive scale and speed.

The result is that our phones are ringing off of their (now metaphorical) hooks. The network that connects the entire world with impeccable reliability has been rendered completely useless by a tiny fraction of people trying to bilk their way to riches.

The good news is hope is on the horizon. Citizens are fed up, and a coalition of legislators, regulators, providers, trade organizations, and attorneys general are working diligently to devise and deploy solutions to the problem and put robocallers out of business. The goal is not easy to achieve — robocallers continue to evade consequences due to a surprisingly complex Gordian knot of social, policy, and technological issues that cannot be easily untangled. Worst of all, it’s hard to know if proposed and deployed solutions are actually helping the problem.

Our work

Brad Reaves, NC State Associate Professor of Computer Science, and his team of researchers at NC State’s Secure Computing Institute are developing and applying state of the art research to enable authorities and individuals to understand how robocallers operate, what efforts are likely to yield results, and deploy new solutions to quickly solve this problem that was decades in the making.

This website is dedicated to sharing progress on these efforts and providing resources for government, industry, and individuals to be part of the solution. You can: