When Neil Cook addressed the crowd listening to him at their first-ever media conference in the Philippines, he asked everyone, “Have you noticed a day that went by without you receiving a nuisance advertising or some form of text scam? Perhaps not.” Indeed, with that query, he made most of us realize that among others, this is one of the things we have had to deal with—and simply brushed off—as we go about our daily grind. While most of us would simply just ignore and delete such messages, Cook warned that the magnitude of these types will escalate in time to an extent that would be unmanageable. He should know. As the chief technology officer (CTO) of Cloudmark, that is precisely the work they seek to do—help the telecommunication companies block these nuisance texts and prevent them from reaching their customers.
Cloudmark Inc. is one of the world’s leading companies that deals with messaging threat protection for communication service providers. It builds messaging security software that protects communications service provider networks and their subscribers against the widest range of messaging threats. They do this through their Cloudmark Security Platform software. Cloundmark is a privately held company based in San Francisco, United States, and was founded in September 2001 by Vipul Ved Prakash and Jordan Ritter.
It is also one of the latest among the many technology companies that are currently making a beeline to enter the Philippine market at this time. According to Cook, the Philippines is the second among three other Southeast Asian countries, which are Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, where Cloudmark is seeking to establish its network.
In explaining the work that they do, Cook said that their data shows that the rate at which consumers receive and send emails and text messages increases every minute, providing scammers an opportunity to take advantage of the mobile/Internet network. Further, their research compiled from Cloudmark’s global threat database reveals that in this year alone, 72 percent of all email sent from the Philippines was flagged as spam, with the majority going to the US, Australia, Japan, great Britain and Italy.
Zeroing in on the Philippines, Cook estimates that there are nearly 800 million short messaging service (SMS) spam messages sent across the Philippines monthly. The company identified around 81 percent of SMS spam as financially themed, including payday loans, credit card offers and investing tips. Majority of reported spam in the Philippines, he said, was sent in English, however, credit balance theft scams were more regularly conducted in Tagalog. These would often take the form of messages asking for credit transfers with the impression the sender was someone known by the recipient.
With their formal entry into the Philippine market, Cook said that he is excited working in “the texting capital of the world,” and hopes to provide a safer messaging environment for Filipino subscribers. He explained that the use of Cloudmark’s technology will help identify fraudulent activity and identify grey route traffic, helping carriers maximize revenue and increase customer satisfaction, by preventing the onslaught unwanted and potentially harmful messages on personal devices. He added that with the rapid growth of mobile messaging in the Philippines, there is a greater need to ensure that checks and systems are in place to create a secure environment and clean network.
Important market for company
Cook looks at the Philippine market as becoming more important for them in the near future, because he said during the interview that mobile operators here are experiencing a pivot point, where they are noticing that SMS revenues are starting to decline, because of increased spam messages, and making others migrate to other more secure applications that offer free messaging online. That is why he said that this is the perfect time for them to come in and help the country’s telcos.
Cook says his job as Cloudmark’s CTO requires him to travel and help establish the company in different parts of the world. The job of a chief technology officer is one that has evolved recently as compared to the regular positions normally found in a company, he said, and he likens the job of a chief operating officer as “the one who is standing in front of the ship and making sure it is afloat, while the job of the CTO is in charge of giving the direction on where it is going.”
Outside of his work, Cook is a proud father of two, and he said that he strives to keep a balance between his work and family life. “While I do travel a lot, one of the things I like about this job is that I can work at home, usually from one to two weeks at a time, and I see my family more often that probably someone who works from 9-to-5.” Cook said that when he has extra time, he likes to go sailing in dinghies, where he recently started sailing with his 13-year-old son too. But more importantly, he enjoys the work that he does, and sees himself continuing to do more of the same in the years to come.
In the end, its all about managing and removing obstacles in life so you get to do what you enjoy doing the most. Whether in the workplace or family life, this means dealing with the essentials and weeding out the unnecessary. Even if it means blocking and removing all those pesky nuisance text messages, so all you get are hopefully all the messages you’ve been waiting to hear.