Proximus stops over 3 million suspicious text messages with new platform
Oct 24, 2023
Earlier this month, Proximus started using a new platform to protect its customers from "smishing", a form of phishing using text messages. Since then, Proximus has already detected and blocked 3.2 million phishing messages.
Everyone can probably relate to receiving text messages – usually from an unknown number – that remind you to pay an overdue bill, to complete missing personal details, or even ones that promise you a refund. Often, such smishing messages include links to fake websites, intent on deceiving or extorting money from the recipient. Consequences can be dire for the unsuspecting victims: from financial losses over personal data theft to identity fraud. Although the phenomenon is widely known, many people still fall for it every year; Febelfin figures show that fraudsters, using a variety of phishing techniques (such as text messages, but also e-mails, social media posts, ...), managed to loot nearly 40 million euros in 2022.
To fight smishing more effectively and better protect its customers, Proximus has recently started using a new platform capable of detecting and automatically blocking suspicious messages. For example, the platform recognizes patterns such as numbers sending a remarkably high number of messages, or suspicious links being sent around. Through artificial intelligence, the algorithm can be further trained to perform even better at identifying phishing messages in the future.
Proximus officially launched the new platform on 4 October, after an extensive test phase. Initial results are promising: in the first two weeks after implementation, as many as 3.2 million suspicious messages were blocked, which comes down to 229,000 per day on average. The platform is therefore expected to prevent most smishing attempts from now on. A similar initiative in the UK led to a 90% drop in smishing complaints.
The platform came about in close cooperation with and support from the government. Proximus accounted for half of the investment for development, implementation and operation. In addition, it benefited from public funding, with the support of minister De Sutter and as part of the national recovery plan.
Ben Appel, corporate affairs lead said: "In a world where digitization plays an increasingly central role, we take our social responsibility to strengthen cybersecurity and help build people's trust in digital services and infrastructure. The development of this new platform is a major breakthrough in the fight against smishing. I am therefore very pleased that minister De Sutter has given her support to this project, which will help us better protect our customers from the dangers of fraudulent text messages."
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