Telcos block surging cyber scams

Local telcos are blocking more than double the number of cyber attacks to date as Filipinos continue to shift most of their activities online due to the pandemic.

PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications Inc. combated more than double the number of ‘smishing’ (text messages that aim to steal the victim’s personal data) incidents this year.

Already, the PLDT Group blocked almost 78,000 SIMs tied to ‘job offer’ scams from January to May, 2022.

Since the start of 2022, they blocked, on average, more than 15,000 SIMs linked to the fraudulent activity every month.

The PLDT Group identified mobile numbers being used in the fraudulent activity and coordinated with SMS aggregators upon detecting suspicious messages on their network.

From mid-February to May this year, PLDT and Smart have blocked more than 500 domains specifically linked to smishing, while the PLDT Group has further blocked more than 10,000 domains tied to phishing since July 2021.

Smishing often contain links to websites that lure customers into giving up their personal data.

Cyber criminals then use the information to access customers’ bank accounts or digital wallets or infiltrate customers’ personal network and look for potential victims.

“We have proactively blocked mobile numbers that have been involved in smishing activities. Once detected by our team, even in the absence of a complaint from our customers, we shut that mobile number out of our network,” says PLDT and Smart FVP and Chief Information Security Officer Angel Redoble.

The group invested nearly ₱3 billion in cybersecurity infrastructure in 2021 which enabled them to acquire more than 200 million cyber threat intelligence information, and detecting and preventing close to 300 million combined types of cyber attacks

On the other hand, Globe Telecom Inc. has already blocked 203 phishing sites, including 112 bank and 91 GCash phishing sites pretending to be from the legitimate pages of these organizations, within the first quarter of 2022.

In 2021, Globe blocked a total of 1.15 billion scam and spam messages, around 7,000 mobile numbers linked to scammers, and 2,000 unofficial social media accounts and phishing sites.

Globe blocks spam messages through a series of filters and threat intelligence systems which monitor traffic to find current campaigns and active spammers both on-net and inbound.

Globe encourages customers to take advantage of tools available on their personal devices, such as built-in SMS spam filters or blockers, to fend off spam or scam messages from unknown senders.

“While our cybersecurity team continues to work on anti-spam and anti-scam initiatives on the network side, customers can also make use of tools on their own devices to help protect themselves,” stressed Globe Chief Information Security Officer Anton Bonifacio.

Android phone users can set up spam filters on their Android devices. Should spam messages still get through, customers can report these to Globe or directly to the National Telecommunications Commission.

The public should never open or click on links from unknown numbers or engage spammers by replying with personal information, Bonifacio admonished.

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