CALEA Compliance Goes Undercover

Posted: 1/2003

special report
To Serve & Protect

CALEA Compliance Goes Undercover

By Khali Henderson

COMPANIES LONG have worked with law enforcement to catch criminal conspirators
using their networks. Stepped-up concern over security has put the heat on
carriers to ensure they can meet mandates under the FCC’s 1994 Communications
Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), requiring telecom service providers
to support the ability of law enforcement agencies to conduct lawful, authorized
electronic surveillance of call content and call data.

Carriers can face fines of $10,000
per day for each intercept request from a law enforcement agency they fail to
comply with.

One company, VeriSign Inc., offers a
one- stop, turnkey solution to help telecom carriers comply with CALEA.
Announced last summer, NetDiscovery Services is positioned as an alternative to
carriers procuring potentially costly new equipment or system upgrades and
maintaining special security staff and facilities.

CALEA requires that carriers
provision network elements for the intercept event, intercept the call content
and data, deliver it directly to one or more law enforcement monitoring
facilities in a standard format and provide secure records storage. Depending on
the city, type and number of switches involved, VeriSign estimates carrier costs
for properly administering intercept requests to be at a minimum $150,000
annually to implement a system, while maintaining the credentialed staff, secure
processes and secure facilities required. Also, it can cost as much as half a
million dollars per switch to upgrade.

"A lot of systems require a
[delivery or adjunct] box to be CALEA complaint," says Raj Puri,
NetDiscovery project manager, explaining that those can run between $50,000 and
$200,000 each. "We eliminate that requirement."

VeriSign’s maximum-security
facilities and trained personnel can deliver all CALEA requirements for carriers
as needed, at a fraction of the cost, he says.

VeriSign’s nationwide signaling
network infrastructure, digital certificate technology and secure data centers
enable it to provide a scaleable service bureau solution that saves carriers
significant capital expense and virtually eliminates administration costs
involved in meeting the legal, technical and operational requirements of CALEA.

Using Verint Systems Inc.’s
STAR-GATE, a solution that provides the means to access and deliver intercepted
communications content and call data to law enforcement agencies, VeriSign
offers a streamlined solution that meets the needs of wireline, wireless and
cable telephony carriers.

Puri explains that once contracted
by the carrier, VeriSign becomes the primary point of contact for law
enforcement. "Once we receive the order through the carrier, we deal with
it. It’s completely hands off for the carrier."

Among the orders NetDiscovery
processes are historical call records, pen registers or trap and trace
(real-time call data as it occurs), as well as wire taps from both law
enforcement and national security agencies. The company’s personnel are set up
to handle classified orders, having attained the appropriate government security
clearances, Puri says.

In addition to eliminating a
carrier’s need to maintain such personnel, NetDiscovery also eliminates the need
to connect to the thousands of agencies with authority to request information,
Puri says.

The solution supports circuit
switches and beginning this quarter it will support packet-based gear, such as
soft switches. The company is working with Cisco Systems Inc. to support its
soft switches, routers and gateways. One beta trial with an unnamed operator is
ongoing, and Puri says there are several customers queued for commercial
deployment of the packet-based support.

In addition to Cisco, VeriSign is
working with four other "market-leading" vendors to ensure support for
their packet-based offerings, it says. The company has the goal of supporting
all suppliers, creating vendor neutral support for operators.

"Almost every provider has some
sort of packet-based hardware, so support for packet under CALEA is critical. It
cuts across all types of carriers from wireline to wireless to cable MSOs,"
he says.

The company is looking also at
solutions for ISPs and their gear (routers, gateways, etc.) although they are
not included under CALEA, Puri adds.

"Our goal from a service
provider perspective is to provide the same basic service no matter what the
network infrastructure," he explains. "We do the mediation between all
types of technology."

How it Works
Source: VeriSign Inc.
Instead of maintaining multiple delivery connections from every switch to every
law enforcement agency, carriers only need one connection to the VeriSign
NetDiscovery Service.

VeriSign Inc.

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