Spark New Zealand began beefing up its protections against cybersecurity risks, with plans to introduce an automated SMS scam firewall and fresh filters.

In a statement, the operator explained the firewall is scheduled for launch in April, is aided by a global database of confirmed scam content and will significantly reduce the number of mischievous SMS customers receive by detecting and blocking URLs and phrases known to be used in malign campaigns.  

Spark sustainability director Leela Ashford noted it had monitored outgoing SMS traffic patterns on its network for years and recently began automatically alerting its fraud teams to unusual activity.  

She said the latest filters will improve its ability to detect and block scams reaching customers from other mobile networks. 

The operator is also preparing to become the first ISP in New Zealand to sign up as a member of the Internet Watch Foundation, allowing it to block malware, phishing and child abuse material contained on the group’s URL watchlist.   

To strengthen its defence against malicious activity, Spark is working with a government cybersecurity group to implement protections against customers inadvertently downloading malware onto their devices.