Globe moves to stop 8080 ‘spoofing’ messages

An example of a spoofed message received by a Globe customer.

In an urgent move against fraud, Globe has started removing clickable links from its official customer advisories following incidents of “spoofing,” where its SMS channel 8080 is being impersonated by scammers.

Customers have reported receiving messages illegally sent by scammers via 8080 or sender ID “Globe,” enticing them to click on a fake Globe link to redeem rewards including mobile devices. The modus is done using an illegal equipment called the international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) catcher, or a fake cell tower or base station. These devices are brought around on foot or inside vehicles to capture mobile users within a limited radius.

The IMSI catcher forces phones within a certain area to downgrade to 2G, the old cellular network technology for voice calls and texts. Once these phones are connected to the fake cell tower, unknowing users can receive SMS from any spoofed number or sender ID. These messages do not pass through the Globe network, thus evading its spam filters.

By stopping its broadcast of SMS advisories with links, Globe hopes to help customers discern between real and fake Globe messages.

“Globe has seen a rise in cases of spoofing in certain areas around Metro Manila. These spoofed messages make it very hard for customers to discern between a legitimate message and a scam SMS. To help them distinguish between real and fake, we are no longer adding links to our official customer advisories,” said Anton Bonifacio, Globe Chief Information Security Officer.

“With this step, if customers do receive an SMS with a link from 8080 or “Globe” as sender ID, they will know that it’s from spoofing, thus a fake message,” he added.

The use of IMSI catchers is a global threat, with incidents reported around the world.  Globe has been working with partners to develop a solution to this problem, which has seen a rise in the Philippines following the enforcement of stringent regulations against SMS fraud, including the SIM Registration Act.

Globe also observed how fraudsters shifted to using IMSI catchers and over-the-top (OTT) media services after it started blocking person-to-person SMS with clickable links, an unprecedented measure, in September 2022.

Globe is also taking steps to work with law enforcement towards catching IMSI catcher culprits.

“The safety and security of our customers is paramount. We are looking for ways through technology and the law to stop these criminals from targeting Globe customers. We call on our customers to be extra vigilant when receiving unsolicited SMS. Do not click embedded links, particularly URLs in suspicious form,” said Darius Delgado, Head of Globe’s Consumer Mobile Business.

To report scam and spam SMS, go to Globe’s #StopSpam portal.

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