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Mobile marketing boom sees dramatic rise in spam SMS, industry warns

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It’s not all rosy in the world of mobile, security is also an issue and a study by AdaptiveMobile finds that spam SMS marketing messages are becoming a growing problem with numbers having dramatically risen over the past ten months.

AdaptiveMobile, which was featured on the BBC’s Watchdog programme discussing the growing problem of SMS spam, warns that text scams can originate from a variety of sources and it is becoming evident that fraudsters are advancing in the ways in which they can target mobile users.

Threats can range from simple social engineering attacks that apply to any mobile handset, such as Missed Call Alerts or SMS messages claiming the recipient has won a prize draw and invites users to reply via SMS or by calling a premium rate number, through to more sophisticated attacks that exploit smartphone capabilities to connect to the internet, resulting in click fraud or as an entry vector for mobile viruses.

Recent data from one of the biggest operator groups AdaptiveMobile works with shows that each month it blocks on average 1.6 million unwanted incoming SMS messages per country from other operators – 60% of which are rogue advertising messages.

The mobile phone is such a personal device and people have grown too trusting when it comes to the content on their handsets. If recipients receive an SMS message, many click on it without a second thought, which is all it takes for the fraudulent activity to begin. Whilst some mobile operators are working to combat these threats at a network level, users also need to play their part if they’re to stay safe in an increasingly mobile world.

Gareth Maclachlan, COO, AdaptiveMobile comments:

“With the growing number and complexity of mobile security threats being targeted at mobile users, combined with the increasing penetration of ‘smarter’ devices, mobile operators need to ensure customers are protected and stay one step ahead of the threats.

Mobile operators now understand that traditional approaches to securing networks are no longer adequate in coping with the rising number and sophistication of attacks and operators are now taking proactive steps to ensure that this is the case. In a competitive industry where trust is key to reducing churn and maximising each customer relationship, those operators that strive to protect their subscribers will be the ones that ultimately succeed in winning and retaining customers.”

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