Telcos spend P2B to curb online child abuse

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    PLDT Inc. and wireless unit Smart Communications Inc. have invested close to P2 billion this year to run their advanced cybersecurity operations center to help curb abuses against children over the internet.

    The companies said the investment has enabled them to block 3,020 domains that host illicit materials featuring children as mandated by the National Telecommunications Commission.

    “This is where we predict, prevent, detect, and respond to all types of cyber threats including those related to OSAEC (online sexual abuse and exploitation of children). This is where we identify phishing and scamming activities. This includes notifying our enterprise subscribers of attacks and high-risk activities inside their network,” said Angel Redoble, first vice president and chief information security officer of PLDT, Smart and ePLDT.

    PLDT said it expanded its sources on these illegal sites to be able to block as many domains as possible.

    “We’ve been doing open-source threat intelligence gathering, purchasing available commercial threat intelligence and receiving information from our government through law enforcement agencies on which sites to block,” said Francisco Ashley Acedillo, Smart assistant vice president and chief strategy officer of the cybersecurity operations group.

    But PLDT and Smart said they are digging deeper, bringing the fight against OSAEC to the content level. The challenge is to block access to a specific material without restricting access to the legitimate website where it was uploaded.

    “It’s a combination of technologies. We bring our customers to our child protection platform where we reference the content they’re trying to access against our database. When they’re trying to open any offensive content, they’re brought to a landing page telling them that the material violates the country’s anti-child porn laws,” Redoble said.

    Crucial to this platform is PLDT and Smart’s membership with the UK-based Internet Watch Foundation, a leading international non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating online child abuse content.

    Once completed, this will enable both companies to gain access to an extensive database of web pages hosting these objectionable materials.