Insights from Vox Solutions

VOX Insights | Network Audit Report for Zimbabwe

Mobilesquared most recent SMS A2P databook indicates 60% SMS A2P gray routes in Zimbabwe. A VOX360 network audit of Zimbabwe also revealed that there were several clear areas of vulnerability which MNOs should look to improve. These network vulnerabilities negatively impact customer service and also act as significant barriers to MNOs being able to increase their revenue.

Sub-Network auditing results for fraudulent activity: Zimbabwe

There are more often than not a set of common challenges that show up in country-level network analysis.

  1. Messages Analyzed for Manipulated Content

Manipulated content shows up when a consumer receives an SMS showing text alterations. These alterations indicate that someone with malicious intent has tampered with the message. 

“15% of SMS traffic showed evidence of manipulated content”

We uncovered that 15% of SMS traffic carried traces of manipulated content in Zimbabwe. This points to a high chance of fraudulent activity. In most cases, evidence of manipulated content means your customers could be the target of a scam.

Digging deeper into the manipulated content in Zimbabwe, we found that of the manipulated content messages, 50% of them had all text removed, with only the 2FA code delivered. Here are some examples of the messages that appeared to consumers:

  • Your pass is 81675. Thanks)
  • kodu 378476,
  • #USE 729501 . . .
  • YourCode is 04563.Thank you!
  • Use in ApP 63953.

There is a high probability that this manipulated content shows fraudulent Intention to bypass a firewall. The negative impact of these actions is significant, as this firewall bypass technique often results in high volumes of bypass messages that negatively impact customer experience.

  1. SIM-box Threat Analysis

SIM boxes are a growing threat all over the world. Opportunistic parties create a cheap, bulk SMS messaging leveraging consumer-grade technology which any person can easily secure. The practice is illegal and puts the end customer, the Messaging deliverer and the MNO at risk. The whole delivery chain is negatively impacted.

“18% of SMS Traffic was delivered from SIM boxes, on-net and off-net, and this kind of activity can build momentum considerably when more obvious leakages are found. SIM box activity builds momentum gradually, and it can have a high impact if left unchecked

  1. International A2P Traffic Sources

High amounts of traffic from international networks can point to a weak spot in a network that could lead to firewall bypass. International bypass traffic can often be difficult to control because high volumes of traffic can pass through a network in a very short space of time. This badly affects an MNO’s ability to manage and monetize its traffic.

About 40% of Zimbabwe’s A2P SMS traffic is terminated via hubs from other international MNO operators. This indicates the possibility of bypass from international sources was occurring. This high percentage warrants further investigation.

Testing results for fraudulent activity in Zimbabwe

Extremely low pricing often deserves close inspection to make sure that proper business practices are being followed. With Zimbabwe, we found that a small but significant percentage (20%) of their SMSs were delivered at the lowest price possible. 

“20% of SMSs delivered through hubs were delivered below € 0.01”

Out of all the Hubs tested, 6 of their hubs showed very high delivery rates (over 90%) for the lowest rate on the network. It is highly inefficient and concerning to focus high efficiency and service on the lowest pricing.

“6 hubs in the delivery price range below € 0.01 had a delivery success rate over 90%”

High delivery rates for ultra-low-cost hubs are a red flag that reveals many potential risks. These risks could involve sim-box termination or content manipulation. The probability of these types of bypass occurring is very high, especially when terminated via local hubs, aggregators, or content providers.

Collating the findings of the Zimbabwe network analysis

Here is a list of the challenges existing within Zimbabwe’s network:

  • Identified content manipulation has the scope of bypassing firewalls
  • High volumes of cheap SMS traffic, coupled with high delivery success rates, places more valuable traffic at risk
  • Badly monetized A2P SMS products lead to revenue leakage
  • User privacy concerns – leaked subscriber data could lead to reputational and legal issues.

When all these risks are considered:

“The total estimated volume of international A2P fraud in Zimbabwe is 40-50 %”

But what are the true risks of these findings and why do MNOs need to take them seriously?

Risks of known network vulnerabilities

There are three major threats that emerge from the findings of our network analysis:

MNOs lose money

Each network practice that reduces the efficiency of an MNO causes it to lose money. This could be Sim-box fraud, pricing imbalances, or message content manipulation. Now is the time for MNOs to optimize their systems to take back control of their own networks.  

Loss of Control

By allowing outside parties to take advantage of network weaknesses, MNOs lose control. They cannot direct their own success, as outside forces are actively sabotaging their strategy. This often affects the financial success of MNOs and reduces customer satisfaction.

Privacy and Security

In a regulated industry like telecommunications, compliance is an important factor. MNOs stand to compromise the privacy and security of their customers if fraudulent schemes are left unchecked.


Zimbabwe’s network infrastructure demonstrates some areas of weakness. If MNOs want to optimize their systems to maximize revenue opportunities while keeping customer retention levels high, now is the time to take back control of their operations. To combat common network attacks, MNOs should monitor and test their networks in order to take control of their revenues and customers. 

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