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Phishing, SmishingPhishing, Smishing

SMS messaging abuse, or smishing, coming to a phone near you

Michelle Donegan

April 24, 2007

2 Min Read
Phishing, Smishing

Just when you thought it was safe to send that SMS, messaging services are increasingly vulnerable to fraudulent attacks called smishing, which is the mobile version of phishing (and not to be confused with vishing for voice-over-IP phishing). (See Phishers' Latest Platforms: VOIP, SMS.)

Mobile spam, smishing, and viruses are the next frontier that security company Cloudmark Inc. says it will target, mainly in Asia and Europe. Essentially, the same fraud schemes conducted via email over the Internet are emerging in the mobile environment via short message service (SMS) messaging.

"As [mobile] operators offer more connections to the Internet, they expose themselves to more risks," says Dave Champine, senior director for product marketing at Cloudmark. "Largely, they rely on the walled garden approach and on the network being secure."

Asia is the most problematic for SMS spam and smishing due to the high usage of messaging and the prevalence of unlimited mobile data plans. Users there receive one or more spam messages per day.

"As carriers move to unlimited data [packages], they bear the cost of the abuse," says Champine. "Then, it's a top priority to get this under control."

Europe will be the next market where these fraud problems will arise, and today, Cloudmark opened its European headquarters in London. (See Cloudmark Opens Euro HQ.)

But messaging abuse is not a big priority for North American operators because "the economics aren't there for people who would abuse it," says Champine. "It's still small and manageable." In other words, the prices there are not low enough to attract fraudsters.

Cloudmark has partnered with two messaging platform company, Anam Mobile and message filtering company, Adaptive Mobile, to block fraudulent messages at the SMS gateway. With Anam, Cloudmark has a trial with an operator in Southeast Asia and with Adaptive Mobile, Cloudmark is working with an operator in South Africa. Cloudmark CEO Hugh McCartney says he will announce a mobile operator customer in the coming weeks. (See Cloudmark, Anam Team.)

"[Messaging abuse] is perceived as a problem," says Champine. "It's no longer a question of if messaging abuse will occur, but when."

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

About the Author(s)

Michelle Donegan

Michelle Donegan is an independent technology writer who has covered the communications industry for the last 20 years on both sides of the Pond. Her career began in Chicago in 1993 when Telephony magazine launched an international title, aptly named Global Telephony. Since then, she has upped sticks (as they say) to the UK and has written for various publications including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and, most recently, Light Reading.  

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