Security Alert: The Alarming Lifecycle Of American SMS Spam

Posted: Jan 27 2014, 10:05am CST | by , in News

Security Alert: The Alarming Lifecycle Of American SMS Spam
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Detailed graphics, blowing wide open the alarming way text message (SMS) spam spreads across the U.S., have prompted chief information officers at telecoms firms to start taking aggressive preventative action.

The snapshots, created by mobile security firm AdaptiveMobile, show that mobile phone providers face a serious challenge protecting their customers across the U.S., and most notably in South Florida, Dallas and Chicago, where the highest levels of SMS spam are received. The city where the most spam originates is Los Angeles.

SMS spam is generally executed methodically by large criminal gangs and regularly involves phishing, in which links are sent to encourage users to go to a website and enter their personal details.

Having seen the data, many telecoms firms have taken action. AdaptiveMobile recently announced that its customers, providing mobile phone services, slashed SMS spam on their North American networks by 79 per cent in 2013. But it warns that the spamming techniques continue to evolve in equal measure, and new areas of threat mean the proliferation can return.

Graphics Show How U.S.-originated Spam Messages Snowball

In the first graphic, it can be seen how Los Angeles is the originator city of an extensive amount of SMS spam but is also where large amount is received, alongside Dallas, Chicago and southern Florida. The subject of the spam is also shown.

But while spam from California generally spreads across the nation, Texas spam tends to stay local, as seen here.

Meanwhile, VoIP spam is being highlighted as an emerging problem as criminals look to new ways of sending out mass messages.

Taking Action

The news is prompting cellular service providers to take action, according to Cathal McDaid, head of security operations at AdaptiveMobile. He tells Forbes that “both regulatory pressures and the need to provide a good service” are prompting telecoms firms to block the messages.

Having recognised the problem, the mobile service providers are using advanced technology to identify and block problems as they emerge. But the changing nature of the issue is creating fresh demands on chief information officers.

“It’s a real race between the spammers and the telecoms industry. While spammers used to send thousands of messages for every phone account they have, they have got wise and now open numerous accounts sending only 20 to 50 messages per account so they are harder to track,” he explains.

In order to beat this problem, mobile phone companies now have a more rigourous authentication process for opening accounts, preventing automatic signup of numerous accounts and catching signups that are not manually created by humans. In addition, more rigorous antispam filtering protection is also helping, he says, but work will continue as threats evolve.

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Source: Forbes

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