Australian operator Optus is marking 10 years of partnering with FraudWatch International, a provider of anti-phishing and online brand protection. Optus reports that in the time the two companies have worked together, FraudWatch has taken down more than 3,171 phishing emails, brand abuse, fake mobile apps and fake social media sites from a combination of proactive detection by FraudWatch and from reports from Optus and its customers. Using its detection technology to hunt the internet for cyber threats, FraudWatch seeks to take down malicious, phishing websites within three hours of detection.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has also worked with telecom operators to develop recently-released rules and pilot initiatives to reduce the scale and impact of scam calls on Australians. Since ACMA’s Reducing Scam Calls Code came into effect, Optus reports it has successfully blocked more than 35.2 million scam calls.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch reports that last year Australians lost a reported AUD 176.1 million (US $138 million) to scams, up by 23.1 percent compared to 2019.
Since phishing and other online scams are getting more aggressive and prevalent, and given that a large proportion of such attacks reach consumers through their smartphones, it is an excellent policy for mobile operators to take fraud protection seriously rather than leaving it to national regulators and the consumers themselves.
Optus has been proactive for a decade now, with demonstrable results. For operators in general, emulating its example—by partnering with anti-fraud specialists—would be highly beneficial. It would of course bolster the operator’s brand in terms of reliability, trustworthiness and public-spiritedness. Furthermore, it would make subscribers more comfortable with performing financial transactions through their smart devices, which would ultimately benefit the operators in terms of data traffic, fees, and third-party revenue such as advertising and e-commerce and e-finance partnerships.
Scam calls and phishing emails are more than irritants, and they can make users reluctant to use or at least to make full use of the mobile networks. As a general principle, internet fraud debases the medium of the internet, so defending its integrity should be a top priority for those companies whose existence depends upon it.