UK Mobile Service Providers are trialling Axial Systems IP address engine
New Internet Protocol (IP) Address Correlation Engine delivers IP address resolution enabling authorities to identify offenders and crack down on crime in real time
Axial Systems, a leading solutions provider and systems integrator in network, security and services, has announced that two of the UK’s Mobile Service Providers (MSPs) are trialling Axial’s IP Address Correlation Engine, the company’s innovative new solution for IP address resolution.
The significant interest of MSPs in the Axial solution has been driven by the progress of the Government’s Investigatory Powers Bill through Parliament. Once it is passed, the assistance of MSPs may frequently be required in order to obtain communications data relating to a person’s use of a particular service or to intercept communications to or from that service.
Having rapid access to key communications detail is critically important to fighting terrorism and other types of serious crime. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to attain. As Mike Simmonds, Managing Director, Axial Systems, explains:
“One of the biggest obstacles is the need to identify in real time who used a particular Internet Protocol (IP) Address, and where and when they used it.
“It is a capability that Communication Services Providers (CSPs) and MSPs, in particular, will need to be ready to provide as the Investigatory Powers Bill moves through Parliament,” he adds, “but no one technology provider has previously been able to deliver it in a practical, easy-to-use system. That’s until, in conjunction with a select group of solution providers, we utilised a combination of technologies and created the IP Address Correlation Engine which delivers the required single point of truth.
“Axial is ideally placed to develop and deploy this kind of innovative technology.” continues Simmonds, “because we have an in-depth understanding of, and expertise in, both security and networks.”
Axial Systems’ solution delivers the value it promises because it combines the necessary functions of an intelligent correlation engine that monitors, stores and retrieves meta-data pertaining to all address translations in a public-internet-facing network, helping in turn to pinpoint the CSP’s dynamically assigned IP address and external IP address, chosen by the internet-facing gateway of that CSP. This enables the location of IP addresses to be identified in real time, allowing law enforcement agencies to resolve an IP address to a specific individual, establish exactly where they are and stop crime in its tracks as, or even before, it happens.
“It’s important to note we don’t record the high-level communication as a whole. Instead we record it at the lowest possible level, closely monitoring the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)/IP session and correlating each connection based on the content of the session. Why do we do that? Because it is the most definitive source of truth available and does not reply on “feeds” from other, possibly debatable quality, sources.
This element is key to the integrity of the detail provided by the solution.
“We are not relying on anyone else giving us data upon which we base our IPAR intelligence. Instead, we completely correlate all of this internally – and that means we can produce a record that says, for example: – this IP address was used by this device at this time and sent and received this much data – exactly what is required by the Investigatory Powers Bill.”
Using information held by every MSP, such as the unique identifier for a particular handset and the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, perhaps together with information about where and when the phone was purchased, it’s possible for the IP Correlation Engine to start to build a detailed picture of communications activity around a particular crime.
According to Simmonds:
“For example, in the aftermath of a major incident, it would be possible to access the product and establish, who visited a certain website at 2 o’clock in the afternoon last Tuesday from a mobile device on a specific carrier’s network – and also provide information that would help determine the location of the individual at that precise point in time.”
The approach also makes it possible to set triggers and alarms for a pre-agreed list of web locations and Internet services – not necessarily to ban them as there may be legitimate reasons for people to visit but to ensure that those visits are recorded so that in the event of an issue, there is a smaller ‘community’ of locations to trawl through. Critically too, Axial’s IP Address Correlation Engine is deployed non-disruptively within the MSP’s existing infrastructure. The solutions foundation is based upon tried and tested hardware already deployed in some of the most challenging environments, including across the financial services sector.