Airtel Develops AI Tool to Identify Fraudulent Phishing Messages

K. C. Sabreena Basheer 06 May, 2023 • 3 min read

Phishing and cyber fraud through unsolicited commercial communication (UCC) have been a major concern for banks, TRAI, and other financial regulators, leading to financial losses estimated at Rs 1,000-1,500 crore every month. In an effort to curb this issue, Bharti Airtel has developed a solution based on AI and ML. Their revolutionary tool helps to detect, prevent, and eliminate phishing, spam, and fraud through messaging.

Airtel has developed an AI Tool to prevent phishing, spam, and cyber fraud cases via SMS.
Learn More: Applications of AI in Banking and Finance in 2023

Testing the Solution With HDFC Bank

The telco has set up direct access to secure SMS communication and is currently testing the service with HDFC Bank. The solution, which has been in place for the past two to three months, is not part of the required DLT procedure. The approach makes use of an anti-spam filter that can identify and block up to two million messages each day, according to a letter dated April 27 and addressed to TRAI chairman PD Vaghela.

The TRAI has successfully tested the new AI anti-phishing tool in HDFC banks in India.

“Direct connectivity has been established between Airtel and HDFC to help secure end-to-end SMS (short messaging service) connectivity and flagging any other route,” the telco said in the letter.

Templates and Headers

Headers are the shortcode that you see as the sender ID for promotional or transactional messages. Brands register predefined messages with the telco, with formats having specific headers called Templates. This helps in capturing and tracing fraudulent promotional messages. Additionally, the system contains a feature that guards users against receiving spam or fraudulent messages via the application-to-person (A2P) or person-to-person (P2P) channel. The anti-spam solution is created using rules and checks based on the combination of the header and the URL in the message or the call to action (CTA).

Also Read: RSA Conference 2023 Overview: AI Takes Center Stage in Cybersecurity

Airtel’s Proactive Measures

Airtel has suspended more than 130,000 templates, including those that were susceptible to misusing the HDFC brand name. The telco has also imposed a cap on more than 100,000 numbers to detect UCC and reduce P2P spam. In addition, the company is in discussion with the banking industry and other entities to put the solution to trial.

Efficacy Rate of Over 99%

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), and TRAI were all audiences for Vodafone Idea’s (Vi) demonstration of its anti-phishing solution last month. The Tanla Platforms solution shows an efficacy rate of above 99% in the tests run by the operator.

Also Read: AI Is Stealing Your Data – Say, Experts

TRAI Asks Airtel and Reliance Jio to Showcase Their Anti-Phishing Solution

Airtel’s AI tool filters promotional and transactional messages from banks based on message shortcodes registered with the telco. To prevent unauthorized use of the header or template, Airtel’s approach tags the company and the telemarketer. Following the successful testing of the tool, TRAI has requested Airtel & Reliance Jio to present their anti-phishing solutions by May.

Also Read: Criminals Using AI to Impersonate Loved Ones

Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea (Vi) also working on anti-phishing solutions following Airtel's message-based anti-scam AI Tool.

Our Say

With this AI tool, Airtel aims to protect its customers from fraudulent messages and phishing scams. By proactively suspending templates and imposing caps on numbers, Airtel is taking measures to reduce spam and prevent UCC. Airtel’s solution sits outside the mandated DLT process and offers direct connectivity to HDFC Bank for secure end-to-end SMS connectivity. With the rise of cybercrimes, such measures are essential to safeguard customers’ financial interests & maintain trust in the digital ecosystem.

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