UnionBank drops ‘clickable’ links in anticybercrime drive | #phishing | #scams


Citing the need to curb phishing, smishing and other online fraud, Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) has announced that it would do away with “clickable” website links in its promotions and communication materials to the public.

UnionBank added it had intensified its cybersecurity information drive #CyberSureHoliday to raise awareness on the cybersecurity risks involved in holiday seasonal shopping, including phishing scams, data swipes, fake websites and infected website links.

“Forward-thinking banks are embracing technological innovations to re-define customer experience in terms of financial health, wealth and security. Despite the conveniences technology provides, recent events have shown us how quickly our lives and businesses can be disrupted when cybercriminals use technology to do harm,” said Henry Aguda, UnionBank senior executive vice president, chief technology and operations officer and chief transformation officer.

Modus operandi

Phishing is a type of cybercrime in which a target is contacted by email, telephone or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institution and tricked into providing sensitive data such as personally identifiable information, banking and credit card details, and passwords.

Smishing is a similar cybercrime except that it is done through short messaging system or texting. In many cases of both phishing and smishing, the victims are asked or lured to click fake websites that collect sensitive data.

“To further protect Filipinos from these vulnerabilities, we at UnionBank are continuously fortifying our IT security solutions,” Aguda said.

“We are also complementing this measure with our #CyberSure information campaign to offer Filipinos actionable guidance on how they can protect themselves from cyber perpetrators and practice safe online behavior. If everyone does their part, the interconnected banking world will be more resilient for everyone,” he added.

Safety reminders

Through its #CyberSure information drive, UnionBank has reminded Filipinos never to click links in text messages or emails, no matter how realistic they look.

Clients are urged to always check the email sender and go directly to its official app, UnionBank Online, to verify their transactions.

Furthermore, clients must be careful on what they publicly share on social media, as fraudsters gather data by looking up email addresses online, the bank stressed.

Tech-savvy UnionBank was among the first financial institutions in the country to set up an integrated operations center, which is a collaborative facility to address the growing cybersecurity concerns. This allows UnionBank to respond to cyber threats faster, as well as provide remediation steps and coordinate the incident response across groups more effectively.

In the first 11 months of 2021, the Bankers Association of the Philippines estimated that over P1 billion worth of hard-earned money had been lost to fraud, including unauthorized bank withdrawals and fund transfers. This was as cybercriminals more aggressively prowled the digital space as locked-down consumers shifted to digital channels.

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