Cloudmark and GSM Association tackle the problem of spam and fraudulent messages

As reported by Infosecurity in the spring of last year when we interviewed Richard Cox of Spamhaus, spammers and fraudsters are increasingly using mobile broadband and even GSM modems to generate spam and fraudulent messages, simple because – at the swap of a pre-paid SIM card – they can change their originating accounts before they are detected and locked down.

Infosecurity asked Hugh McCartney, Cloudmark's CEO, what the solutions to the problem from the GSM Association and his firm will be.

Whilst regular (landline ISP) internet users have their own spam reporting mechanisms, few cellular service providers have a spam/fraudulent messaging mechanism in place, which is where Cloudmark's and the GSMA's new service enters the frame.

Under a new system that been developed by Cloudmark and the GSMA, cellular users will soon be able to forward suspect messages to a free text message number that will alert the two organisations to the origin address and take action.

The scheme – known as the GSMA spam reporting service and which is operated on behalf of the GSMA by Cloudmark – will also analyse and aggregate potentially problematic misuse of the cellular networks.

The code, McCartney told Infosecurity, is the numeric equivalent of SPAM – 7726 – and was chosen for its simplicity and memorability.

"We've been working with the GSMA on this project for some time. It's clearly an area that needs addressing, as spam and fraudulent messages sent over mobile networks is a growing problem", he said.

According to Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer with the GSMA, meanwhile, the issue of mobile messaging misuse is a global, inter-operator problem.

The GSMA spam reporting service, he said – along with other spam mitigation solutions such as spam filtering – is an important component of a comprehensive spam mitigation strategy for the industry.

"We have learnt from the online experience where spam is prolific and this service will enable mobile operators, mobile users and legitimate mobile marketers to take action as we work together to help users and their service providers to tackle mobile spam", he said.

Each mobile operator participating in the pilot will receive correlated reports with data on threats and misuse originated both within and outside of their network.

According to McCartney, these reports will include data on misuse patterns, volumes and top originators of spam, regionally and world-wide.

It's still early days with the pilot, McCartney said, but as it gets rolling, it will gradually allow more and more users of mobile phones an easy method of reporting spam and potentially fraudulent messages.



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