After blocking SIMs, PLDT-Smart takes down 650 domains tied to text scams

PLDT and its wireless unit Smart Communications said it has stepped up its clampdown on malicious text messages by going after Internet links that aim to defraud customers.

From June 10 to 28, 2022, PLDT-Smart said its Cybersecurity Operations Group (CSOG) has blocked more than a hundred URLs and domains tied to text scams, bringing the total links blocked to 650 in the first half of 2022.

“Apart from blocking malicious text messages and SIMs, PLDT and Smart are also clamping down on URLs or domains that are often linked to ‘smishing’ activities. This adds another layer of protection for our customers and prevents access to these sites that target their personal data,” said Angel Redoble, first vice president and chief information security officer of PLDT-Smart.

‘Smishing’ or SMS phishing is a form of social engineering done through text messages that deceive customers into thinking that these messages were sent by banks, recruitment agencies, tour operators and other companies. These messages contain links to websites that lure victims into revealing their personal information.

Globe Telecom, meanwhile, has warned the public about the dangers of over-the-top or OTT messaging, which refers to the sending and receiving of messages over the Internet using content providers outside of a telco’s messaging networks. These include messages sent via apps such as Viber, Whatsapp or iMessage, which have message encryption.

 As OTT messages use the Internet, they bypass mobile networks and evade SMS blocking, the company said.

“We have been successful in detecting and blocking hundreds of millions of illegal SMS sent over our network this year, although many of these scam messages are also sent via other messaging apps. The content of these OTT messages is encrypted and beyond the coverage of telcos,” said Globe chief information security officer Anton Bonifacio.

Bonifacio advised Globe customers to avoid responding or interacting with suspicious OTT or SMS messages that offer promos, employment opportunities and other unsolicited products and services. These are most likely elaborate scams run by global crime syndicates that operate in many countries.

He also encouraged customers to report scam messages through Globe’s spam reporting mechanism on its website via the Stop Spam portal. The reporting form is also available on the GlobeOne App, Globe’s Facebook Messenger, and all other agent-assisted channels.

The Ayala-owned telco said it has blocked over 138 million spam and scam messages from January to mid-June this year. It also deactivated 12,877 mobile numbers from January to May after being reported as spam through Globe’s reporting portal.

The company said it also continues to strengthen its security tools and platforms to increase detection and blocking capabilities against illegal SMS and Web blaster devices.

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