Users given control over SMS spam

Messaging security specialist Cloudmark today unveiled a new security platform that enables cellcos to tackle SMS spam more effectively, and also rope users into the fight.
The Cloudmark Mobile Messaging Security Solution, includes a global reporting and analysis component, and an automated active messaging filtering solution -, which means it doesn’t just filter marketing spam, phishing attempts, malware and messages that try to trick you into calling a premium-rate number, but also gives users more control over what kinds of messages make it to their handsets.
“Before, we were mainly concerned with protecting subscribers from the nasty things that we knew about with our filtering technology,” says Cloudmark mobile marketing vice president Alan Ranger. “But we’ve been working on this with a couple of operators, and they wanted to take it to the next level so that subscribers themselves had more control over what was delivered to them.”
The security product is scheduled to launch in 3Q11. It will enable subscribers to log on to their operator’s portal site and define the phone numbers they want to receive messages from. It also allows users to block numbers and indicate which types of content they want to receive. When unwanted messages do arrive, they can report it to the operator from the handset and automatically block that kind of content and the number that sent it, Ranger told Telecoms
Operators that deploy the solution can use it to create new value added services including malware and virus protection, fraud prevention, SMS content filtering, and even anti-bullying services that enforce per-subscriber blacklists and whitelists.
SMS spam hasn’t quite yet reached the levels of email, up to 95% of which is spam. Ranger says SMS spam levels vary from country to country, but in select Asian markets accounts for up to 20% of all text messages, whereas in Western Europe it’s less than 2%.
But Ranger says that given the volumes of text messages sent every month, even low percentages still mean millions of spam messages getting through to consumers. He predicts the situation will only get worse as spammers take advantage of unlimited SMS plans and messaging apps that makes SMS a more profitable spam channel than email.
“We’re seeing that many of the spammers coming to mobile are the same spammers who were using email, and they use a lot of the same avoidance techniques, and things like botnets to generate messages from multiple phones,” he said.
Other potential threats include malicious binary messages (such as the infamous “SMS of Death” reported in China) and “mischief apps” that enable users to text-bomb a person with the same message a million times with the aim of killing their phone, he added.