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Telstra will block millions of fraudulent text messages

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Telstra has pledged to block the sending of millions of malicious texts to customer devices in a bold crackdown on criminal scammers.

Telstra has rolled out an Australian-first technology that automatically blocks fraudulent text messages at the network level before they have a chance to infiltrate mobile devices.

The telecommunications company will apply the new feature to all devices on its network from Thursday in what is expected to block millions of fraudulent text messages each week.

Its sophisticated technology uses a machine that analyzes and selects suspicious content such as malicious links, and evaluates them in conjunction with the time, sender, number of messages sent and recipient.

The delicate process protects the recipient’s identity while ensuring the delivery of legitimate messages such as emergency alerts and messages from banks, large corporations, government departments and Telstra apps like MessageBank.

As the technology becomes more and more intuitive, some potential fraudulent texts will be reported to Telstra specialists who will examine whether they are really malicious or not.

“Customers might be worried that we’re blocking legitimate text messages, but obviously we have a lot of protocols and procedures in place to make sure we don’t,” Telstra CEO and Managing Director Andy Penn told News. .com.au. .

Customers can also disable the feature if they wish.

Penn highlighted the company’s confidence in the technology’s effectiveness following a three-month internal trial that began in December with around 2,500 employees.

“These trials gave us great insights and helped develop the model, so we augmented it externally,” he said, adding that Telstra anticipated an increased need for the feature after the invasion. of Ukraine by Russia.

Malicious text messages to Android phones also rose massively from 50 reports in 2020 to 11,000 in 2021, which was largely attributed to the Covid pandemic and increased use of digital services.

“The overall level of text messaging has increased quite significantly during these times for these reasons and we’ve just seen scammers take advantage of it,” Penn said.

The technology, part of Telstra’s “Cleaner Pipes” initiative, was developed using a “complex and scalable” threat platform, he said.

“With the technique we’re using, we’ve built a platform of threats and analysis around identifying ranges of different sorts of things that give us a clue as to what’s malicious. Machine learning is getting better with time.

Unfortunately, with every advance in technology, criminals are never too far behind.

“For every day we implement one more, malicious actors become more aggressive and sophisticated,” Penn said.

Customers won’t have to do anything to enable the feature, but they will need to contact Telstra if they want it disabled.