Smart Communication achieved the highest percentage of registered subscribers among Philippine mobile operators, with nearly 80% of its 65.7 million subscriber base as of the end of June 2023. This is in compliance with the SIM Card Registration law, which aims to make it harder for criminals to perform technology-facilitated crimes.
However, Smart also recognizes that SIM Registration alone is not enough to protect consumers from cybercrimes. The company is calling for extensive consumer education to reinforce the benefits of SIM Registration and to raise awareness on how to avoid text scams, bank fraud, phishing, and other similar prevalent communication-aided schemes.
According to Atty. Roy Ibay, VP and Head of Regulatory Affairs at Smart, information awareness must be the first line of defense against cybercriminals. He said that when customers are fully informed with a broad understanding of how these scams work, they will be more adept at recognizing red flags and avoiding potential traps.
He also reiterated 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 to others can lead to identity theft, hacking of mobile banking applications, and other technology-aided criminal acts.
“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.
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. Issued as Republic Act No. 11934 in 2022, SIM Registration requires all mobile users to register their SIM cards with their respective service providers.
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.
In 2022, the 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.