Globe, GCash temporarily block website links in messages, improve security for users

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 30) — Globe Telecom is enforcing new measures to protect customers from being victimized by the alarming proliferation of spam and scam messages.

The telco has temporarily blocked text messages that contain website links to keep people from falling prey to fraudulent activities

Globe Chief Information Security Officer Anton Bonifacio said last week this is a stricter measure compared to its previous practice of blocking access to links the telco deems malicious.

"This time around, we're blocking the actual message. If the SMS has a link of any kind, we are not going to deliver it, period. This is necessary to protect our customers," he said in a statement.

A Senate panel is conducting an inquiry on the spread of scam and spam text messages containing the names of subscribers.

Globe earlier said it had already blocked 784 million spam and scam messages, 14,058 SIM cards, and 610 domains or URLs indicated in spam messages.

PLDT/Smart, on the other hand, said it has so far blocked more than 11 billion attempts and 200,000 mobile numbers engaged in spamming.

In a bid to further protect subscribers, the telco's GCash service has implemented new measures to fight scams.

GCash is removing clickable links in official emails and text messages sent to customers, followed by an aggressive information campaign where users will no longer receive messages from GCash that contain website links.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, for its part, also called on its regulated financial institutions to undertake several steps in cracking down on cyber fraud and other attacks to financial services.

"These changes are in line with our own #SafeWithGCash campaign that aims to ramp up investments, partnerships, as well as educational and awareness programs on keeping our services safe and secure for our 69 million users,” said Martha Sazon, President and Chief Executive Officer of GCash.

She said: “The safety of our users is our utmost priority and we continue to invest and implement world-class security measures to protect customer data.”

The confirmation SMS for the ‘Send Money’ service will be moved from text message inbox to users’ app inbox. It will be followed by ‘Buy Load’ and ‘Bank Transfer’ by Oct. 12. These messages will also be available in the ‘Transactions’ button on the app.

Customers have been informed of these changes through official text messages and in-app reminders.

“Migrating the transaction confirmation messages will help ensure users are getting only legitimate messages regarding their GCash transactions,” explained Ingrid Rose Ann Beroña, Chief Risk Officer of GCash.

The top Philippine e-wallet has been adamant in ensuring the protection of personal data and accounts of its customers by employing various security measures including cyber threat detection and analytics, vulnerability scanning, as well as incident response and forensics.

Just recently, GCash has swiftly rolled out a feature update that anonymizes the names of recipients in the send money service to provide an added layer of customer protection. In the past, the name of the person is seen as an added measure of convenience which helps verify that the recipient is correct.

Globe spent $20 million or about ₱1.1 billion to boost its capabilities in detecting and blocking scam and spam messages.

Amid all these efforts, GCash, with strong support from Globe, assures the public it will remain a leading figure in the fight against ever-evolving threats that target the data and hard-earned money of its customers.

The bill that will require all subscribers to register their subscriber identity module (SIM) is set to be forwarded to President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

If passed into law, it mandates SIM card users to register their personal information with the telecommunication bodies or authorized card sellers by presenting valid government IDs and documents.

Minors would have to use the names of their parents or guardians.