THE PLDT group announced on Tuesday that more web addresses linked to text scams were blocked in June, bringing the total number of links blocked in the first half of the year to 650.

“Apart from blocking malicious text messages and SIM (subscriber identity module) cards, PLDT and Smart are also clamping down on URLs or domains that are often linked to ‘smishing’ activities,” PLDT, Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc. First Vice-President and Chief Information Security Officer Angel T. Redoble said in an e-mailed statement.

“This adds another layer of protection for our customers and prevents access to these sites that target their personal data,” he added.

The National Privacy Commission has said that a global crime syndicate might be behind the short message service (SMS)-based phishing attacks, or smishing.

Smishing attacks use text messages to trick mobile-phone users into visiting malicious websites.

They deceive customers into thinking that these messages were sent by banks, recruitment agencies, tour operators and other companies, the PLDT group said.

Victims are lured into revealing their personal details.

According to Mr. Redoble of the PLDT group’s Cybersecurity Operations Group, most phishing sites are tucked in the deep web.

“When cyber criminals have acquired the victim’s personal data, they use this to access the victim’s bank accounts or trade them in the dark web.”

Last year, the PLDT group made a P3-billion investment in its cybersecurity infrastructure. The objective was to “safeguard the public against emerging cyber threats and vulnerabilities, including online fraud and other criminal activities,” it said.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Arjay L. Balinbin