Obtaining the biggest percentage of registered subscribers among Philippine mobile operators, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is reinforcing the benefits of SIM Registration via a call for extensive consumer education against cybercrimes.
While meant to make it harder for criminals to perform technology-facilitated crimes, the wireless unit of PLDT Inc. (PLDT) emphasizes how SIM Registration benefits will only be maximized if backed by consumer knowledge. This reiterates a previous warning from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for the public to be cautious in dealing with scammers, detailing that providing one’s personal details with others can lead to identity theft, hacking of mobile banking applications, and other technology-aided criminal acts.
“Information awareness must be the first line of defense against text scams, bank fraud, phishing, and other similar prevalent communication-aided schemes. When customers are fully informed with a broad understanding how these scams work, they will be more adept at recognizing red flags and avoiding potential traps,” according to Atty. Roy Ibay, VP and Head of Regulatory Affairs at Smart.
Issued as Republic Act No. 11934 in 2022, SIM Registration is one of the key priorities in safeguarding the public, a law to provide Filipinos with a greater sense of security against scammers. “As technology continues to advance, so does the creativity of cybercriminals seeking to exploit unsuspecting individuals. It is vital to stay vigilant against potential scams, to ensure personal information and financial security remain intact,” Atty. Ibay added.
Smart and its value mobile brand TNT have registered 52.5 million subscribers or 80 percent of its 65.7 million subscriber base as of July 30, the end of the five-day grace period for SIM Registration. No other mobile operator came close to achieving this percentage of registered subscribers versus their subscriber base.
Alongside their support for SIM registration, PLDT and Smart’s long-standing consumer protection initiatives include blocking SIMs that send ‘smishing’ messages and Uniform Resource Locators (URL) or links that lead to illegal activities. Amid the Group’s intensified efforts, the average monthly number of SIMs blocked for sending out smishing messages increased seven-fold from under 5,000 in 2020 to more than 35,000 SIMs in a month, as of July 2023.
For full year 2022, the integrated telco was able to block more than 17 billion attempts to access malicious domains. The group’s cybersecurity operations unit blacklisted 5.5 million domains used in phishing, spam and other hoax activities. Some 433 million text messages containing phishing sites were also blocked, in addition to more than 400,000 mobile numbers found to be engaged in illegal activities.
In the first half of 2023 alone, Smart blocked more than 10 billion attempts to access malicious domains, 32 million SMShing messages, and over 180,000 mobile numbers involved in illegal activities.
An IBM study bared that 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error. To counter this, PLDT and Smart advocate a culture of cybersecurity through the CyberSmart program, training stakeholders from local government units and academe partners since 2019.
In addition to urging customers to refrain from engaging scammers and to avoid clicking suspicious links, Smart also encourages its subscribers to report smishing incidents and fraudulent activities to email@example.com.
The efforts of PLDT and Smart to share CyberSmart tips on keeping customers safe online are fundamental to the PLDT Group’s broader transformation goal to elevate the quality of customer experience by protecting them while online.