Organisations Using SMS Sender IDs Could Be Required To Register With the Government

Scams have been on the rise in Singapore over the past year or so, forcing authorities to ramp up measures in protecting citizens. One such way they’re planning to do so is to minimise the chances of receiving spoofed text messages that are malicious in nature.

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According to The Straits Times, a new proposal is now being considered that would require all organisations using SMS sender IDs to communicate with the public to register with the government. The requirement could bolster the effectiveness of SMS Sender ID Registry (SSIR), which was implemented to detect and block spoofed text messages. SSIR was launched in March by the Singapore Network Information Centre, a subsidiary of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).


If the proposal is passed, only registered sender IDs will be able to send SMS texts to the public, while non-registered IDs will be blocked by default. Organisations that do not use sender IDs need not worry as they will not be affected by the change.


"This further safeguards SMS as a communication channel," said IMDA. The measure would also make it more difficult for scammers to conduct phishing schemes, which involve them posing as legitimate entities to fool potential victims into parting with sensitive information.


As of writing, there are more than 120 public and private sector organisations that have registered their sender IDs. These reportedly include e-commerce platform Shopee, retail banks like DBS, UOB and OCBC, insurance provider AIA, SPH Media and the Singapore Exchange, among others.

Sample fake SMS messages OCBC customers received earlier this year. Credit: OCBC

The IMDA said there's a one-time registration fee of S$500, plus a yearly fee of S$1,000 for the protection of up to 10 sender IDs. There will also be a transition period between October to the end of the year to give organisations a chance to register with the government. The proposal is said to be outlined in a consultation that's expected to close on 9 September.


The info-communications board additionally wants telcos to use machine-learning solutions to detect and block scam messages on their networks, such as ones with malicious links, for example. This would enhance previous efforts from telcos that blocked messages with spoofed numbers and automated calls. The recommendation of using technology, however, could perhaps make the existing measures more efficient at combating scams.


Earlier this year, hundreds of OCBC customers lost money from their bank accounts after supposedly receiving legitimate-looking messages from scammers that posed as the bank. This resulted in losses totalling not less than S$13.7 million.

 
  • A new proposal is now being considered that would require all organisations using SMS sender IDs to communicate with the public to register with the government.

  • The requirement could bolster the effectiveness of SMS Sender ID Registry (SSIR), which was implemented to detect and block spoofed text messages.

  • If the proposal is passed, only registered sender IDs will be able to send SMS texts to the public, while non-registered IDs will be blocked by default.

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