Korea fights phishing with warnings and OS updates

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Korea fights phishing with warnings and OS updates

[SHUTTERSTOCK]

[SHUTTERSTOCK]

 
Starting next year, anyone receiving an international call in Korea will hear a voice message telling them that the call originates overseas.
 
The move comes as the government seeks to prevent voice phishing, or vishing. Scams by telephone are a major problem in Korea, and the tricksters are becoming smarter by the day.  
 
They have recently targeted people waiting for some kind of news, such as news related to college admissions or end-of-the-year taxes. As the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) ended on Nov. 17, various vishing attempts were made targeting students who had just finished their examinations.  
 
A text message notifying some of acceptance to a college was sent by one phisher, with a URL link attached to check the receiver's acceptance status and input bank account details for the paying of registration fees, according to a case shared by the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).  
 
The text message even includes a due date for the registration fee.  
 
The FSS warned parents and students, in response, to stay cautious of these vishing scam attempts.
 
Some phishers are impersonating the National Tax Service (NTS) as the time arrives for people to file their taxes. The message leads the text receiver to a malicious URL to download an application that would allow the hacker to access the phone remotely.  
 
The FSS said that government, including the NTS, does not use text messages to request personal information.
 
To protect people from getting their confidential information leaked, voice announcements notifying the call receiver that the call is made from overseas will be started to be heard in the first half of next year, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT.
 
SIM boxes, which are used to disguise international calls to domestic calls, have also been blocked.
 
Until earlier this year, a phisher's phone number appeared as the name of the person saved on a phone if the last 9 to 10 digits of the caller's number were the same, making receivers susceptible to these scams, believing that the call is actually from someone they know.
 
After talks with phone manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics and Apple, operating system updates were made to prevent names saved in the phonebook from being displayed for partial number matches.
 
The government requested domestic phone manufacturers to add a reporting function for suspicious messages in people’s message inboxes starting in the first half of next year. The government is still in the process of negotiating with foreign manufacturers.
 
Starting early next year, phone numbers that had been involved in illegal acts, such as financial fraud, will be prohibited from sending text messages. People affiliated with voice phishing scams or possessing burner phones will be limited in how often they can apply for new numbers.
 
The ministry also plans to strengthen processes for identification when activating a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) phone, as this particular phone can be purchased and activated online.  
 
“It is essential to draw preventive measures by analyzing voice phishing crime methods,” said a spokesperson for the science ministry.
 
“Both the public and private institutions will cooperate to stop voice phishing attempts.”

BY CHO JUNG-WOO, JEONG HYE-JEONG [cho.jungwoo1@joongang.co.kr]
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