Monday, June 17, 2024

Smart disables clickable links in spam text messages

PLDT-owned mobile operator Smart Communications said it has blocked Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) or clickable links usually found in spam text messages.

Smart made the move as a way to beef up its cybersecurity infrastructure as “smishing” attacks intensified recently against mobile phone customers.

In addition to blocking SIMs that send ‘smishing’ messages, Smart said it has also blocked URLs linked to these illegal activities.

“Our recent investigation bared that these unscrupulous messages are being sent through individual SIMs,” said Angel Redoble, FVP and chief information security officer of PLDT and Smart.

“These messages do not originate from aggregators or their customers. There is no evidence to suggest a breach in our systems that would have given perpetrators access to the mobile numbers and names of our subscribers. Upon scrutiny of these spam messages, we have observed that the format of the names mimics the naming conventions used in popular digital services.”

Leah Jimenez, FVP and chief data privacy officer of PLDT and Smart, said the company is working with the National Privacy Commission (NPC), the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), and law enforcement agencies to assist in efforts to identify the perpetrators.

“At this early stage, and pending completion of investigations, we believe it prudent to hold off on any conclusion. Our focus should be on identifying the source of these scam messages,” Jimenez said.

“We will also be undertaking public awareness campaigns to equip our texting public with the capability to identify illegitimate messages so that they can protect themselves from being fraud victims,” said Cathy Yang, FVP and group head at PLDT and Smart.

Smart said its efforts to detect and block malicious messages, including SIMs and websites tied to fraudulent activities, are part of a much broader program to elevate the quality of customer experience by protecting them from threats and attacks.

PLDT and Smart said they invested nearly ₱3 billion in 2021 to safeguard the public against emerging cyber threats and vulnerabilities, including online fraud and other criminal activities. 

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