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Data breaches nothing new, says expert


PETALING JAYA: Although news about the data leak is disturbing, a technology site editor Vernon Chan says personal data privacy has already been breached in many ways.

“Look at how many spam calls and texts we get daily. This has been happening for a while,” said Chan, who runs vernonchan.com.

He has taken some steps to try and protect his data the best he can by, for instance, not answering strange or foreign numbers unless they are already in his contact list.

He also uses applications like Truecaller to identify and block spam calls.

However, he believed that consumers could do more to prevent the situation from getting worse, including reporting every spam or scam call and message they received.

“Most of the time we ignore and delete them but I think we should take stronger actions,” he said.

Telcos also needed to react more quickly and make it easier for users to handle unsolicited communications, including blocking, unsubscribing and reporting the numbers that they believed were fake, said Chan.

One senior journalist, who requested anonymity, said he received three calls within two days last week from strange numbers – one originating from Cuba, another from Madagascar and the third from Somalia (see graphic).

“I don’t know anyone from those countries. I just refused to answer – and after a couple of minutes, they stopped trying,” he said.

He added that of late, he had also received numerous text messages from unknown numbers containing a mobile link with the message “load to preview”.

A salesperson for a pharmaceutical company, Mandy Au, said she would frequently receive calls from people she did not know.

“I wonder how they got my personal phone number. One caller even knew my date of birth, and the other knew my home address, she added.

“I recently got a call from a bill collector claiming that I owe Telekom Malaysia RM758, and told me if I did not have any debt with the company, I should lodge a police report and pass the report to her.

“I am not stupid. I said I did not owe the company any money but refused to lodge a police report. She threatened me with legal action but I ignored her,” said Au, who lives in Petaling Jaya.

Marketing manager Jennifer Sta Maria has made it a habit now to ignore all unfamiliar numbers after receiving numerous calls from insurance companies or banks.

“I asked one caller how they got my number, even though I knew I would not get a straight answer.

”I complained (about her number being given out without her permission) to the MCMC but have not heard anything to date,” said Sta Maria, who lives in Kuantan.

Government , data protection

   

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