STIR/SHAKEN in Canada: Everything You Need to Know

Written by:

Wisam Abou-Diab


Ever get a call from a seemingly familiar number, only to be bombarded with a scam or unwanted sales pitch? You’re not alone. Call spoofing, where scammers mask their caller ID with a trusted number, is a growing problem. However, STIR/SHAKEN in Canada, a new technology by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), is here to fight back.



STIR/SHAKEN isn’t a single technology but a powerful duo. STIR (Secure Telephony Identity Revisited) is the standard that defines how phone calls are signed with a digital certificate, verifying the caller’s identity. SHAKEN (Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs) is the framework that allows service providers to exchange these certificates and verify calls. STIR/SHAKEN works on the core functionality of SIP but not directly on SIP Trunking.

When you receive a call, your phone service provider checks with the caller’s provider to ensure the number displayed is legitimate. If everything checks out, the call appears as usual. If not, your phone might display a warning or even block the call entirely.

Behind the Scenes of STIR/SHAKEN

STIR/SHAKEN works like a digital verification system to ensure the legitimacy of caller ID. Here’s a breakdown of the process:

  1. Certificate Issuance: Phone service providers obtain digital certificates from a trusted authority, similar to a digital passport for your phone number. These certificates contain information like the provider’s name and contact details.
  2. Call Initiation: When you make a call, your service provider attaches your certificate to the call signaling information using the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). SIP essentially carries the call information across networks.
  3. Verification Exchange: As the call travels between service providers, the certificates are exchanged. The receiving provider can then verify the authenticity of the certificate with the issuing authority.
  4. Call Labeling: Based on the verification outcome, the receiving provider can label the call for the recipient. Potential labels include “Verified,” indicating a legitimate call, or “Not Verified,” suggesting potential spoofing. Some providers might even block unverified calls entirely.
  5. Enhanced Security: Throughout this process, encryption techniques secure the certificates and prevent tampering. This ensures the integrity of the caller ID information.

While not foolproof, STIR/SHAKEN in Canada significantly reduces the effectiveness of call spoofing by making it a complex and risky endeavor for scammers. This collaborative effort between service providers and the CRTC paves the way for a safer calling environment in Canada.

risky endeavor for scammers

STIR/SHAKEN uses three levels of attestation to verify call authenticity:

Full Attestation (A): The provider has authenticated the caller and they are authorized to use the calling number.

Partial Attestation (B): The provider has authenticated the call source but cannot verify the calling number.

Gateway Attestation (C): The provider has received the call from an international gateway or another network and cannot verify the source.


How Star Telecom’s influences STIR/SHAKEN:

Full Attestation (A): As a trusted telecom provider, Star Telecom owns the numbers and can provide Full Attestation for businesses using our services, ensuring the highest level of call verification. At the least, Star Telecom will work with carriers to provide a Partial Attestation (B).

Enhanced Call Security: Only legitimate calls reach your customers.

Regulatory Compliance: Meets FCC requirements, helping you avoid fines.

Improved Customer Experience: Reduces spam calls, fostering trust and satisfaction.

Seamless Integration: Integrates effortlessly with existing systems like Genesys Cloud CX.

Expert Support: Backed by over 20 years of telecom expertise.


How It Works

  1. Call Origination: The originating service provider (Star Telecom) assigns a digital certificate and Full Attestation (A) to the call.
  2. Call Transit: The signature and attestation are verified by intermediate providers.
  3. Call Termination: The terminating provider validates the signature and attestation before delivering the call.

Why is STIR/SHAKEN Important?

Phone spoofing in Canada is a major concern. Scammers exploit it to impersonate government agencies, banks, or even loved ones, tricking victims into revealing personal information or sending money. STIR and SHAKEN make it significantly harder for them to operate. Here’s how:

  • Reduced Spam Calls: Scammers primarily rely on the anonymity provided by spoofing. STIR/SHAKEN exposes this tactic. This makes robocalling more rare, and scammers can’t impersonate legitimate organizations and trick victims. This can lead to a substantial decrease in the overall number of scam calls Canadians receive.
  • Stronger Cybersecurity Posture: Call spoofing in Canada is often the first step in more elaborate cyber scams. STIR/SHAKEN strengthens Canada’s overall cybersecurity posture by including spam blocking. SHAKEN framework allows service providers to exchange these certificates and verify the authenticity of calls during the caller authentication process.
  • Enhanced Trust in Calls: The constant spoofed calls undermine trust in phone communication. STIR/SHAKEN helps rebuild that trust. With verified caller ID, Canadians can be more confident answering calls, especially those from unfamiliar numbers. This can be particularly beneficial for businesses that rely on phone communication to connect with customers.
  • Improved Business Communication: Many businesses struggle with customers hesitant to answer calls due to spoofing concerns. STIR/SHAKEN allows businesses to showcase verified caller ID, demonstrating legitimacy and fostering trust with potential customers. This can lead to increased lead generation and improved customer service experiences.
  • Reduced Costs: Call spoofing is a costly problem for both individuals and businesses. Individuals waste time answering scam calls, while businesses lose potential customers and may even incur financial losses due to spoofing-related fraud. STIR/SHAKEN can significantly reduce these costs by minimizing the impact of spoofing.

STIR/SHAKEN is a global initiative, and Canada’s progress paves the way for more consumer protection. As international cooperation continues, we can expect a significant decrease in call spoofing and a safer telecommunications landscape for everyone.

consumer protection

Beyond Immediate Benefits

The impact of STIR/SHAKEN extends beyond immediate benefits. It represents a foundational technology for building a more secure telecommunications infrastructure. As technology matures and international cooperation expands, we can expect:

  • Improved Detection Techniques: As call spoofing tactics evolve, STIR/SHAKEN can be adapted to incorporate new detection methods, staying ahead of the curve against cyber criminals.
  • Enhanced Call Filtering: Service providers can leverage STIR/SHAKEN data to develop more sophisticated call filtering systems, further reducing the number of unwanted calls reaching consumers.
  • Global Collaboration: International adoption of STIR/SHAKEN can create a global network of verified calls, significantly hindering the effectiveness of cross-border spoofing attempts.
  • SMS services: While STIR/SHAKEN is currently focused on verifying voice calls, the technology has the potential to be applied to other communication channels in the future, including SMS services.

STIR/SHAKEN is a powerful tool with the potential to revolutionize phone communication. Choosing secure telecommunications service providers fosters trust, improves security, and paves the way for a more secure and reliable communication landscape for Canadians. Canadians can reclaim peace of mind when answering their phones by understanding STIR/SHAKEN and taking a proactive approach to call safety. 

Rate this post

Savings Calculator

Please fill your information in fields below

* This field is mandatory
* This field is mandatory
* This field is mandatory
* This field is mandatory

Yes I would like to receive email from Star Telecom about the latest in technology news, white papers, webcasts, events and more. Please check to subscribe. You may opt out at any time

PRIVACY STATEMENT: Please note we will never sell, rent or loan your email address to any outside company or organization.