Here Comes Text Messaging Spam

from the just-what-we-need dept

This topic has been brought up a few times before, and while it isn’t that bad in the US so far, it appears that it’s only a matter of time until we’re all dealing with SMS text messaging spam. In some ways it will be worse than the “dictionary attack” that email spammers use, since it’s often easy to guess the phone numbers of mobile phone users (if you figure out one, you know an entire block of 10,000 numbers). The wireless carriers are getting worried – so hopefully they’ll do something to stop this. They’re afraid that people are going to start turning off their mobile phones to avoid getting bothered with constant SMS spam. It seems to me that there’s a very simple solution to this: offer an option to only allow text messages from those in your address book. At least for me, I have no desire to ever receive an SMS text message from someone I don’t know. To me, it’s not like email, but much more directed. If the person (or company) doesn’t know me, I don’t want to hear from them via text message on my phone. Update: An organization in the UK is looking for examples of SMS spam in order to compile a database to show to people to convince them that there is a problem.

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Comments on “Here Comes Text Messaging Spam”

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Euroman says:


How will turning off your mobile stop spam? When you turn it on all the messages will download and fill your SMS buffer space! SMS spam is horrendous, *but* sometimes the phone companies send out useful info to you by SMS (such as when you roam to a different country) and then its’ OK (I suppose those are easy cases to allow for though)

Torsten Jacobi (user link) says:

SMS spam will not happen

Defintely phone numbers are easy to guess. But you are forgetting one point. Spam occurs because of the 0 transaction costs of emails. People with a broadband connection do actually have an incentive to use their lines. A SMS messages still costs you between 5 to 10 ?-Cent. It’s very unlikely that you spend this much as a spammer.

James says:

text messaging spam

The idea of only permitting those in an address book to send messages is interesting, but will not work in many situations (someone calling from a payphone or sending the message via the web — unless you made them enter their normal number during the course of sending the message). It certainly is an option that I think would be nice to offer, but there is a much simpler way to prevent any spam that was sent via the web: Use the same systems that people are using to prevent automated email spam through web interefaces (require the user to enter a code before the message is sent, and the code is displayed as an image that a computer cannot recognize).

This isn’t rocket science. I could program this myself, and I bet commerical systems exist. This is apathy on the part of the carriers. Maybe worse that apathy — they are getting PAID for those spam messages since they charge the recipient in some cases. I would advise people to complain to the FTC/FCC if they are having a problem with this issue. The carriers should have some culpability here, instead of saying “Oh well, you have to pay for the messages” (which is what I know Nextel says).

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