PLDT enlists Palo Alto Networks to fight child abuse and human trafficking online

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GLOBAL cybersecurity provider Palo Alto Networks was recently tapped by PLDT Inc. (PLDT) and its Smart Communications (Smart) wireless unit to enhance the capabilities of the two telecom operators’ child protection platform and establish a safer online experience for children.

Angel Redoble, senior vice president and chief information security officer at PLDT and Smart, said in a recent online press briefing that the platform has blocked more than a billion attempts to access data. URL containing child sexual abuse material (CSAM) as of November 2021.

A recent report revealed that in 2020, approximately 2 million children in the Philippines were exposed to content considered inappropriate. The same report also pointed out that one in five children in the Philippines between the ages of 12 and 17 have experienced CSAM while using the internet. PLDT and Smart’s Child Protection Platform is a cybersecurity solution developed to address these issues by blocking illegal CSAM traffic at the content level, effectively limiting access to CSAM that has found its way into legitimate domains.

Redoble said PLDT and Smart have long been at the forefront of the global fight against online child abuse and human trafficking, as part of their efforts to uphold the Privacy Principles. childhood under Republic Act No. 9775 or the Child Pornography Act of 2009.

He pointed out that PLDT and Smart have also joined their peers and other private and government stakeholders in calling for the immediate passage of the anti-OSAEC bill. The proposed law will institutionalize the removal of websites that broadcast or host CSAM, and impose tougher penalties on parties involved in child abuse cases.

“Protecting children online is of paramount importance to PLDT and Smart, it’s in our DNA. As the leading wireless service provider in the Philippines, we wanted to engage with a partner with deep technical expertise and a shared mission to create a safe Internet for children,” said Redoble.

“Palo Alto Networks has demonstrated the capabilities to be at the heart of our platform and provide consistent security and visibility across our entire network. Since it was imperative that the solution be custom designed to meet our needs, we were looking for an innovative cybersecurity partner, which we found in Palo Alto Networks.

Powered by technology from Palo Alto Networks, Redoble said PLDT and Smart’s child protection platform block content-level traffic and comply with regulatory requirements for illegal CSAM. Palo Alto Networks’ next-generation firewalls (NGFW) and cloud-delivered security services, including threat prevention, advanced URL filtering, and WildFire, examine content and convert URLs for redirection if CSAM-related traffic is detected. By matching the blocked URLs with the blocked list policy, the implemented solution will then alert PLDT and Smart that the user is trying to access CSAM.

“As children’s attack surface expands due to increased time spent online for study and entertainment, a scalable cybersecurity solution must be implemented to keep them safe online,” said said Oscar Visaya, Philippines country manager at Palo Alto Networks. “By providing the technology infrastructure for the child protection platform, our collaboration with PLDT and Smart and their extensive network coverage will accelerate our vision to protect the next generation of CSAM content.”

Visaya said the Palo Alto Networks solution it provides to the PLDT and Smart Child Protection Platform has the scale and speed to incorporate any future challenges that may arise in the fight against perpetrators of sexual abuse and exploitation of children online.

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