Outgoing Telstra CEO Andy Penn made the announcement today, stating “we know the number of scam text messages on our network is on the rise – in 2021 we had more than 11,000 reports of malicious texts to Android devices compared to 50 reports in 2020.”
Penn says this is why the company has turned on a feature to find and block SMS scam messages with suspicious links as they travel across the network, and stop as many as possible from reaching mobile devices while at the same time protecting legitimate messages such as commercial messages from banks, governments, emergency alerts, and even Telstra messages like MessageBank notifications.
Telstra has trialled the tech for three months across 2,500 employees and says it was successful in detecting and blocking hundreds of scam SMS messages each and every day.
From today Telstra has rolled out the technology to every Telstra customer – whether you’re on a consumer plan, a managed device through a customer, or even if you use the Telstra network through another provider like Belong. It is enabled by default and there is nothing you need to do to use this feature. So, if you get a link purporting to be from Telstra saying “click here to turn on the spam filter” then, well, that’s a scam.
Under the hood, Telstra says their scam filter is continually evolving to apply knowledge of what scam text messages look like through automatic machine learning that considers the content and other patterns and characteristics such as the time, the sender, the number of messages sent, and the recipient.
Telstra states while the technology is learning some customer messages may be reviewed by specialists to identify if the message is a scam but the details of the recipients will remain masked.
Of course, scammers are always evolving their techniques so Telstra continues to advise customers to be diligent and review text messages carefully.
The new anti-scam SMS filter is part of Telstra’s “Cleaner Pipes” initiative, which claims to have already blocked over 100 million scam phone calls in the past year. iTWire