by Mike Masnick

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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  • identicon
    Euroman, 30 Jun 2003 @ 4:30am


    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)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Liudvikas Bukys, 30 Jun 2003 @ 5:20am

    sender pays

    The best solution is for the carriers to
    charge the senders, not the recipients,
    of SMS messages. The horse is out of the
    barn for sender-pays email, but cellular
    carriers are perfectly capable of figuring
    out how to charge users and each other.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Torsten Jacobi, 30 Jun 2003 @ 9:42am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 30 Jun 2003 @ 10:09am

      Re: SMS spam will not happen

      But... there are now web-based interfaces for sending out SMS that don't cost a thing. It depends on the system, but for many - sending an SMS doesn't cost at all. Receiving it does.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    James, 7 Oct 2003 @ 9:53pm

    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).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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