Globe working with gov't to stop importation of spoofing devices

By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

May 23, 2024, 4:20 pm

<p><em>(PNA photo by Yancy Lim)</em></p>

(PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – Local telecommunications firm Globe Telecom Inc. and law enforcement agencies are working to stop the importation of spoofing devices used in cybercrimes such as SMS scams.

In a statement on Thursday, Globe general counsel Froilan Castelo said fraudsters are capable of sending malicious SMS to mobile devices in a particular area by spoofing legitimate sender IDs using devices called international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) catchers.

“We are working with the government to prevent the importation and use of IMSI catchers, which are the primary tools enabling these security breaches. We need more robust enforcement of the law concerning spoofing and the proliferation of this illegal equipment,” he said.

IMSI devices are imported to the Philippines either fully built or in parts for assembly and are then used for illegal activities, he said.

“IMSI catchers can be carried around on foot or inside vehicles to target SIMs in a certain area and force them to downgrade to 2G, the old cellular network technology for voice calls and texts. Fraudsters are able to send malicious SMS to phones connected to their fake cell tower, appearing to be legitimate,” he said.

There is a need for urgent action, he said, due to the rising number of spoofing incidents that impersonate legitimate and trusted sender IDs.

“SMS spoofing is already criminalized under the Cybercrime Prevention Act. So, we are actively coordinating with law enforcement agencies to ensure the arrest of these spoofers,” he said.

He called on mobile users to be careful with unsolicited messages, especially with offers that are “too good to be true.”

“Never click on SMS links or share your personal information on unverified platforms,” he said.

Reports of spoofing have risen following the strict enforcement of the Republic Act No. 11934 or the SIM Registration Act which requires all SIM cards to be registered with a valid ID before being used.

Telecommunications companies have also cracked down against links in SMS messages by filtering out all person-to-person SMS with links and enforcing stringent regulations on app-to-person SMS with links. (PNA)