Published on March 15th, 2022 | by Jamie Barton, Jeff Bland & Robert Reisig
The engineers responsible for communication service providers’ (CSPs) lawful interception systems must maintain and update their unique skill sets with ongoing training. The particular expertise required of these team members makes this requirement challenging. In addition to telecom and network engineering training, they must have domain-specific knowledge about lawful interception that includes both technical and non-technical topics, such as legal and regulatory frameworks. This article proposes seven training areas to best develop and future-proof lawful intercept engineers.
Training Focus #1: The Mediation Platform
The most critical training for lawful interception engineering teams regards the platform itself. Typically provided by an independent software vendor (ISV) or its licensed partner, this primarily focuses on using the software efficiently and effectively, including understanding new functionalities. Receiving training from the ISV enables a direct conversation between the CSP and provider engineering teams, allowing rapid implementation and configuration of any service or feature requests made by lawful intercept analysts.
Training Focus # 2: Operational Security
Lawful interception places exceptional operational security (OPSEC) demands on engineers. Broadly, the goal of OPSEC training in this field is to create a culture of caution regarding hardware, software, and especially information. Depending on the legal jurisdiction, security clearance requirements for specific functions can play a significant role in building a satisfactory OPSEC program. This training ensures that lawful interception engineers understand the sensitive nature of their work, and that an OPSEC oversight can inadvertently reveal information that puts people in danger, compromises investigations, or even harms national security. Assigning periodic OPSEC training to lawful interception engineering teams is a best practice.
Training Focus #3: Lawful Intercept 101
Engineers benefit from understanding how today’s lawful interception technologies grew out of the earliest wiretapping devices. The history of those technologies guides evolving privacy frameworks, giving engineers insights on how courts and targets function with the mediation system. This context illuminates the trajectory of lawful interception, helping engineers understand the present and prepare for the future.
Training Focus #4: Legal Liabilities and Concerns
Engineering teams must understand the high sensitivity of the lawful interception environment. While malicious misuse of lawful interception technologies is punishable by national authorities, negligence in the application of such platforms can still expose both the CSP and the individual engineer to legal liability. To protect against this risk, engineers must understand the lifecycle of legal authorizations for lawful interception, including when and how they allow for the use of mediation platforms. A CSP’s general counsel should provide interpretation of the regional body of law governing lawful interception to guide the engineering team’s deployment and use of such technologies.
Training Focus #5: Call Processing Expertise
Even seasoned network engineers generally lack experience working with the full spectrum of communication protocols. That breadth is important for lawful intercept engineers, who must also understand the various possible workflows of a call-processing network infrastructure. Lawful intercept engineers must also maintain sharp skills in areas such as Linux and Unix operating systems and scripting, though training in these is typically more available than in historical communication protocols and call flows.
Training Focus #6: Lawful Intercept Industry Standards
Today, it is not unusual for a single mediation platform to deploy 10 to 15 different handover standards from international bodies such as ETSI and ANSI. Understanding each of those standards is crucial for a lawful intercept engineer, and unique to the industry. This also requires a comprehensive knowledge of the CSP’s own network, including how to connect any relevant platforms or data sources to the mediation system.
Training Focus #7: Leading-Edge Telecom Technologies
Lawful intercept engineers must stay aware of new technologies in the telecom industry. For example, to troubleshoot a 5G data flow, the engineer must know how the data session is established and authenticated, and how the data traverses the network. Professional development must keep team members current on technology trends, such as the move from monolithic infrastructure to distributed virtualized network functions and how this impacts lawful interception. Other emerging network technologies that will have a bearing on lawful interception include cloud-native computing, encryption, and the rise of Sidelink communications.
Building a strong training program that targets the needs of lawful intercept engineers is a strategic and regulatory imperative for CSPs. SS8 is uniquely positioned to assist customers in this effort, with resources that include both standardized training modules and tailored offerings.
About Jamie Barton
Jamie Barton is Head of Global Services for SS8 and has over 20 years of experience supporting, designing, and maintaining communication networks and infrastructure. At SS8 he leads the client services team of lawful intelligence experts and manages all SS8 customer relationships. He is responsible for the development and execution of SS8’s client management strategies and works closely with leadership to ensure consistent implementation with our clients around the world. You can learn more about Jamie on his LinkedIn profile by clicking here.
About Jeff Bland
Jeff Bland has 23 years of experience in building and operating telecommunications and IT networks. He has led the deployment, operations, and technology uplifts for customer-facing applications in the carrier space. He has participated in 3GPP standards development and has specialized in telecommunication systems signaling protocols. At SS8 Jeff manages the delivery and software implementation into the customer’s network. Jeff has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Arkansas. You can learn more about Jeff on his LinkedIn profile here.
About Robert Reisig
As Global Technical Program Manager, Robert Reisig is responsible for the Project Management Lifecycle at SS8. He possesses over 25 years of experience in the communications industry, including Cryptologic Communications while in the United States Navy, and extensive experience in location-based services solutions and messaging software. An accomplished Project Manager, Robert ensures successful outcomes for clients. Robert is a graduate of the University of Phoenix and has a Masters Six Sigma Certification from Villanova University. You can learn more about Robert here, on his LinkedIn profile.
About SS8 Networks
SS8 provides Lawful Intelligence platforms. They work closely with leading intelligence agencies, communication providers, law enforcement agencies and standards bodies. Their technology incorporates the methodologies discussed in this blog and the Xcipio® and Intellego® XT product portfolios are used worldwide for the capture, analysis, and delivery of data for the purposes of criminal investigations.