PLDT, Smart step up fight vs online child sexual abuse


After blocking more than 1 billion attempts to visit websites linked to child sexual abuse materials (CSAM), Pangilinan-led PLDT Inc. and Smart Communications are continuing their efforts to restrict access to illegal content to make the online world a safe place.

In a virtual briefing on Tuesday, PLDT and Smart chief information and security officer Angel Redoble said they have identified and blocked over 300,000 online sites that contain CSAM.
He said that they continue to foil “hundreds of thousands” of attempts to access such content every month.

“This is big business because there are customers. That is why it is still growing in terms of distribution because they always find a way to circumvent whatever controls ISPs (internet service providers) or telcos provide,” he explained.

To block the users from visiting the illegal sites, PLDT is working with cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks, which has the technology to detect such harmful content.

Users, upon clicking on these blacklisted links, will then be redirected to a different landing page instead, warning them that the certain website will lead them to CSAM and preventing access.

“With the 5G [becoming] an in thing now as we go along, more attacks … will sprout,” Palo Alto country manager Oscar Visaya said. 5G offers better internet speed, which can lead to more online activities.

As such, the Pangilinan-led firm said it was eyeing to have more technology partners in detecting sites with CSAM embedded on them.

Redoble said they even asked the government to connect PLDT and Smart to intergovernmental group International Criminal Police Organization, which can provide them a list of the illegal sites so they can block them.

Cathy Yang, PLDT and Smart first vice president and group head of corporate communications, said the PLDT Group “made child protection part of cybersecurity strategy, technology investments and continuing solutions to embed safety by design into our products and services.”

“While children may not be our direct customers, we recognize that they are the most active yet most vulnerable end-users of our wired and wireless connectivity services,” she explained.

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