KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians are generally cautious of unknown calls and messages, but increased measures must be taken to prevent them from falling prey to scammers.The National Consumer Complaints Centre’s legal and policy division senior manager Shabana Naseer said concerted efforts were needed to eradicate the menace.“Government agencies, including police and the Malaysian Communications and the Multimedia Commission (MCMC), as well as telecommunication companies (telcos) should work closely in deterring scammers.“Apart from terminating phone numbers used for scamming by MCMC, other measures should be taken to deter them.“The authorities should have a list of those who had registered for phone numbers used for scams. The numbers can be obtained from the police as they are the ones who receive reports by victims.

“Consequently, it will be harder for scammers to register new numbers,” she said, adding that telcos could play a more active role in addressing the problem as part of their corporate social responsibility.She said the public could visit http://ccid.rmp.gov.my/semakmule to check the list of online scammers.Shabana suggested a common complaint platform for the public to lodge reports and urged personal data protection to be strengthened through close cooperation among telcos.Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s head of Computer Security and Software Verification Lab, Professor Dr Zarina Shukur, said the government must take action to protect Malaysians from criminal activities.“The government via its ministries should play a part in taking action to combat scam calls and messages. One of the ways to do this is by informing the public about scam operations through religious activities, such as Friday sermons for Muslims.

“The people’s awareness of criminal activities can be enhanced through sponsored television dramas, by distributing pamphlets to schoolchildren, as well as opening booths at shopping complexes.”She said there should be more campaigns on spam calls and the modus operandi used by syndicates to dupe their victims.Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Mohamed Ridza Wahiddin, a cybersecurity expert, said the public needed to be aware of the danger of taking unknown calls and messages.“A simple preventive measure is to ignore unidentified callers. If it is urgent, the caller will introduce himself and, at this point, we will be able to tell whether the caller is genuine or not.“In a borderless cyber world, all stakeholders need to contribute to upholding privacy and security, and more needs to be done by the government and related agencies to boost the level of public awareness.”

Cybersecurity firm Sophos Malaysia manager Wong Joon Hoong said Malaysians must remain diligent and consider implementing extra protection on their mobile phones.“Spam calls may seem harmless. However, the frequency of such calls can have a negative impact on the receiver. Many spam calls are generated by machines. They are automated calls that deliver recorded messages for telemarketing reasons.“The automated calls, however, can be used for more sinister pursuits to gain unsuspecting victims’ personal data.”Wong said there were simple ways to avoid spam calls, such as blocking unidentified numbers and by enhancing one’s mobile protection.“There are security applications such as Sophos Mobile Security that will block unwanted calls. On top of this, the software identifies malicious or potentially unwanted applications that may result in data theft, data loss and excessive network usage.”