My prediction came true


Ugh.  Sometimes I hate to be right.

Three and a half years ago, when I was being asked for my thoughts about what I thought the next big spam vector would be, I said that it would be on cell phones.  My theory was that cell phone providers would start giving away free services in exchange for users allowing themselves to be sent advertising on their cell phones.  It is similar to the search model (Google, Bing, Yahoo) in that the basic search service is free but then users get advertisements all up and down the search results, and advertisers buy up this ad space and pay the provider with the most traffic.  I wasn’t entirely sure how to draw the connection between advertising and cell phones, but figured someone would figure it out.  Of course, once ads got on people’s mobile phones, it wouldn’t be long before spammers started deluging people with the same.

This past week and last, I finally started getting spam on my cell phone.  Some of my readers might be thinking that they’ve seen this for years, but I haven’t.  And I am talking blatant spam.  One such example:

Thx 4 visiting our site! Claim your $100 Gift Card now at www.<munged>.com.  Enter Gift Code 1PBB5n 2end reply STOP

Here’s another:

You Have: 1 unread message from your seret crush. Reply <<YES<< to get ur crush’s name now! 4help <phone number> $9.99/mo Msg&Data rates may apply.txt stop 2stop.

<Sigh>.

In other words, this is pretty brazen spam and I now have three instances of it in my text messaging inbox.  And I’m not even getting free cell phone service!  Sometime long ago, I must have given my cell phone number out to someone (not sure who but I have my suspicions) who then traded it out to somebody else.  I don’t have proof of this, and I don’t even know for sure if this is the distribution vector.  Unfortunately, when it comes to spam filtering on my cell phone I have absolutely no recourse.  I cannot control any sort of spam filtering for my phone, I have to rely on AT&T to do it all for me.

I guess cell phone spam is now going to become maybe not the next big wave in spam distribution, but probably a big distribution vector as email spam filters continue to improve their response time.

Comments (2)

  1. Martijn Grooten (Virus Bulletin) says:

    How much is it to send a text message in the US? For it is insanely overpriced here in Europe; hence SMS spam has been pretty rare thus far. Of course, there is the possibility of mobile botnets, but there aren't that many of these yet. In Asia, where texting is damn cheap I've been told, SMS spam has been a problem for some time.

    Does someone need to have leaked your phone number for it to end up in spammers' hands? Couldn't it have been an (educated) guess, possibly in combination with verifying the first spam message was delivered.

  2. Lawrence says:

    Yeah, same thing here: http://www.tellows.com/…/7046449648 People are still getting loads of spam messages, just check the comments on this site. It´s unbelievable.

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