67% drop in blocked spam and scam SMS 74% decline in bank-related spam, scam texts

16 April 2024

Mobile leader Globe reported a significant drop in the volume of spam and scam text messages blocked on its network in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period last year, a downtrend reflecting gains in the company’s stringent anti-spam measures.

The total number of blocked spam and scam SMS plunged from 1.1 billion in Q1 2023 to just 362.8 million in Q1 2024, a remarkable 67% year-on-year decline. Bank-related spam and scam messages, which often attempt to lure victims into revealing sensitive financial information, also saw a steep 74% drop from 4.07 million in Q1 2023 to 1.04 million in the recent quarter.

At the same time, the number of customer-reported scam SMS received via Globe’s Stop Spam portal declined 44% year-over-year, from 610 in Q1 2023 to 342 in Q1 2024 – a positive sign that fewer customers are being successfully targeted.

“We are pleased to see our intensified anti-spam initiatives finally turning the tide against unscrupulous individuals and syndicates who bombard our customers with fraudulent messaging,” said Anton Bonifacio, Chief Information Security Officer at Globe. “The adoption of stringent filtering, along with other measures, has clearly borne fruit in dramatically reducing the volume of spam and scam SMS.”

Globe stepped up its fight against spam by enacting rigorous filtering measures, including blocking peer-to-peer SMS containing links and restricting application-to-peer SMS with links. These actions have been essential in lowering the volume of unwanted communications and ensuring message authenticity.

Globe has invested over US$101.2 million in its cybersecurity efforts since 2015, including  US$26 million to build up its defenses against fraud, messaging attacks, and voice call-related threats. This also covers the establishment and sustained upgrading of a state-of-the-art Security Operations Center (SOC), which operates ‘round the clock to manage, monitor, and protect the network and systems from potential risks.

The SIM Registration Act has also served as a deterrent, curtailing the ability of fraudsters to use SIMs anonymously for unlawful activities.

Fraudsters moving to other platforms

While celebrating this victory, Globe urged customers to remain vigilant as scammers are increasingly migrating to other channels beyond the reach of telco. These include over-the-top messaging apps and caller ID spoofing tactics designed to bypass mobile carrier networks.

Mobile phone users continue to report receiving unwanted SMS with dubious job and prize offers. Meanwhile, there has also been an increase in cases of spoofing, where fraudsters use international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) catcher, or a fake cell tower or base station, to send malicious SMS to mobile phone users in the guise of legitimate sender IDs.

“The fight against spam is far from over. Even as we gain ground in suppressing illegitimate SMS, cybercriminals are pivoting to new fronts outside our scope. We urge our customers to stay alert, verify suspicious messages, and immediately report any scam attempts through our Stop Spam portal,” Bonifacio said.

As Globe continues to innovate and refine its anti-spam measures, the company remains committed to safeguarding its customers from pervasive threats and ensuring that its network remains a safe communication platform.

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