Telstra working to block myGov SMS scams


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Thursday, 17 September, 2020



Telstra working to block myGov SMS scams

Telstra is collaborating with the Australian Cyber Security Centre and Services Australia on a trial involving blocking malicious text messages impersonating Australian government services from ever reaching the phones of customers.

The new program will seek to identify and reject illegitimate phishing text messages that are impersonating myGov and Centrelink.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn said working to protect customers from cyber threats has become critically important in the wake of COVID-19.

“With so many Australians now working from home as well as relying on government assistance through Services Australia, it’s vital that we constantly evolve our approach in defending against malicious activity on our networks,” he said.

“Cybercriminals continue to target Australians through SMS phishing campaigns by sending them text messages that attempt to redirect them to malicious websites. Being able to stop these scammers in their tracks will go a long way to protecting our customers.

Penn was the chair of the industry advisory panel that provided recommendations for the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy. One of these recommendations was for telecommunications companies to block more cyber threats at the source.

Telstra also has the Cleaner Pipes DNS filtering initiative, and the new SMS blocking initiative will complement this work. The company is meanwhile working on extending the technology to block SMS impersonating Telstra.

Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert said SMS scams are in the top five methods scammers used to target users of Services Australia services in 2019–20.

“In the 2019–20 financial year, almost 920 Services Australia customers reported scam losses totalling more than $6.4 million — an increase of $500,000 from the previous year,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the collaboration with Telstra underscores the fact that cybersecurity is a whole-of-community effort.

“This pilot program, which will eventually lead to industry-wide solutions, demonstrates how government and industry can work together to better protect Australians from cyber threats,” she said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/maria_savenko

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