Thursday, 07 July 2022 10:57

Telstra blocks 185 million scam texts


Telecommunications company Telstra announced it has blocked 185 million malicious texts—1,500 malicious texts blocked every minute—three months after it launched a SMS scams filter feature last April.

According to Telstra’s company blog written by chief information security officer Narelle Devine, messages blocked have included lures to install malware on the user’s device, invitations to hand over personal details to scammers, and impersonation scams requesting financial data.

The scam messages are a reminder that scammers will do anything to lure unsuspecting victims.

Devine also claimed Telstra blocked over 200 million scam calls.

“These calls are everything from fake tech support scams, so-called ‘Wangiri’ call-back scams through to phishing campaigns,” Devin wrote.

How the technology works
In April, CEO Andy Penn detailed how the SMS filter works.

He wrote if an SMS message looks suspicious, Telstra blocks it before it reaches the user.

“Automatic machine scanning picks out suspicious content such as malicious links and combines this with other patterns and characteristics like the time, sender, the number of messages sent and the recipient,” he wrote.

Telstra also takes into consideration the users’ privacy.

“While the technology is learning, it might flag a potential suspicious message asking if it is a scam. To avoid blocking something legitimate, the new message format may be reviewed by our specialists to identify if the message is a scam, but the details of the recipients will remain masked.”

Telstra enacts other protective measures so other legitimate messages can reach their intended recipients. It does not block commercial messages from banks, businesses, government departments, and emergency alerts.

What scams does Telstra block?
Telstra claims Australia was “under siege” from the FluBot malware when it rolled out its SMS filter.

Telstra says the Flubot has since shut down and authorities are working with Europol to arrest malware authors and shut down scams for good.

However, Devine wrote: “But as soon as one criminal scam enterprise closes, another takes its place. Such is the nature of scams.”

Telstra caught impersonation scams designed to trick users into providing personal info or even financial data (like your credit card numbers) to a fraudulent website.

Similarly, it has seen loads of bank scams, fake toll road scams, and fake job offer scams come through the pipe.

Last 30 June, iTWire reported that the Australian Communication and Media Authorities enacted new rules to protect consumers from scams.

The ACMA estimated scams cost victims an average of $28,000.

This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 7 July 2022.

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