Public urged to practice cyber hygiene

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is urging the public to use all available security features for online transactions as part of efforts to protect consumers from fraudulent activities and strengthen cybersecurity.

The central bank urged digital financial consumers to enable multiple layers of security features, including multi-factor authentication (MFA), for online transactions in digital platforms of BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs).

MFA requires users to verify their identity through several methods before proceeding with a transaction. MFA includes one-time PINs (OTPs), biometric authentications and mobile banking PINs (MPIN).

Authentications are sent through SMS, e-mail, or phone call. Enabled notifications will promptly alert the individual if a transaction was completed.

“Further, the BSP advises financial consumers to practice cyber hygiene by refraining from sharing personal and sensitive information; using strong passwords and changing them regularly; updating device operating systems; and immediately reporting suspicious or unusual activities to BSFIs,” the central bank said.

The regulator also reminded banks and financial institutions to strictly comply with policies on the management of cybersecurity risks.

“The BSP continuously reminds the public that e-safety is everyone’s responsibility,” it said.

BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno told members of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions, and Currencies early this year that losses based on complaints filed with the central bank amounted to P2 billion between 2019 and 2021.

For 2021 alone, the declared amounts in the complaints reached P540 million. Complaints related to the use of internet banking and mobile banking accounted for 45.2 percent of the total number of complaints as COVID served as catalyst to digitalization.

During the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Diokno said a total of 42,456 complaints were elevated to the BSP Consumer Assistance Mechanism (CAM).

“A majority of these cases have been deemed closed. But the process was long and arduous. And for many complaints the resolutions were unfavorable to the consumer,” the BSP chief said.

Diokno said hacking and other malware attacks surged by a whopping 2324 percent in 2020 from 2019, while phishing and other social engineering schemes increased 302 percent.

Diokno also reported that account takeover or identity theft inched up 2.5 percent, while “card not present” fraud fell 26.8 percent.

On the other hand, he said skimming and ATM-based cyber fraud losses significantly declined from 2018 to 2021 due to the implementation of the EMV chip technology, but fraud actors were quick to shift their tactics.


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