Scams through SMS are showing no signs of letting up. Telecommunications company PLDT and its subsidiary Smart Communications (Smart) have blocked almost 78,000 SIMs, from January to May this year, related to smishing (SMS and phishing), more than double the number compared to the same period in 2021.
Toward the end of 2021, subscribers of different providers reported receiving SMS or text messages offering jobs and unbelievable salary offers. Included in the message is a link instructing subscribers to click to apply for the job. According to cybersecurity experts, the link may lead subscribers to malicious software (malware) or bait them to divulge personal information.
According to PLDT, since the start of 2022, the Group has been blocking, on average, more than 15,000 SIMs tied to the fraudulent activity every month. The companies employed additional tools coupled with expanded detection efforts in identifying mobile numbers being used in fraudulent activities. PLDT and Smart also coordinate with SMS aggregators when suspicious messages are traced on their network.
“Once detected by our team, even in the absence of a complaint from our customers, we shut that mobile number out of our network,” said Angel Redoble, FVP and chief information security officer at PLDT and Smart. “We continue to engage our customers, sharing with them useful tips on identifying malicious messages and protecting their personal data. We also work with relevant government offices, and law enforcement agencies, to effectively combat fraud and cybercrime.”
PLDT and Smart’s efforts to keep customers safe from scam “job offers” also extend to cyberspace. From mid-February to May this year, PLDT and Smart have blocked more than 500 domains specifically linked to smishing, while the Group has further blocked more than 10,000 domains tied to phishing since July 2021.
Smishing often contains links to websites that lure customers into giving up their personal data. Cybercriminals then use the information to access customers’ bank accounts or digital wallets or infiltrate customers’ personal networks and look for potential victims.
PLDT and Smart have invested nearly P3 billion in cybersecurity infrastructure in 2021. These major investments have strengthened the PLDT group’s predictive, detective, and responsive capabilities, acquiring more than 200 million cyber threat intelligence information, and detecting and preventing close to 300 million combined types of cyber attacks last year.