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Spammers Start Abusing Cell Phones

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the it's-only-gonna-get-worse dept.

Spam 266

slimyrubber writes "Just when you thought that spam couldnt get any worst, Cell phones are becoming the latest target of electronic junk mail, with a growing number of marketers using text messages to target subscribers. Is cell-phone spam likely to evolve into something that big, something approaching the scale of e-mail spam? Not if you help to kill SMS spam where it starts. Hopefully."

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266 comments

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Hmm. (5, Insightful)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666521)

I seem to recall that in the US, telemarketing to cellular phones was illegal, as the receiver often pays for it directly.

Wouldn't sms spam fall into the same category?

Re:Hmm. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666564)

I seem to recall that in the US, telemarketing to cellular phones was illegal, as the receiver often pays for it directly.

I seem to recall that spammers don't exactly care about what's legal or not... or at the very least the ones that chose to page me and wake me up at 2AM with their important messages of where I can get a good mortgage and how to enlarge my penis.

Re:Hmm. (1, Insightful)

KC7GR (473279) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666626)

I believe it does. However, there's one very easy way to utterly eliminate any chance of SMS spam, AND save some $$ at the same time.

Don't have text messaging enabled for your phone. ;-)

Re:Hmm. (3, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666715)

Well yeah, except that some of us legitimately use text messaging...

Maybe if this becomes widespread over here, though, companies will stop charging for receiving messages. That would be grand. It sucks to have to pay for each message I receive when I have no control over whether I want those particular messages or not. With calls, you can choose not to answer and not get charged. No such option for text messages.

Re:Hmm. (3, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666763)

What'd be better is for the provider to allow users to set up a white list of requirements an SMS must have in order for it to be delivered. Therefore, random guessing Spam usually won't make it past the checks.

T-Mobile has such an interface on their website so that the only SMSs I get are the ones I asked for in advance.

Re:Hmm. (2)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666869)


allow users to set up a white list of requirements an SMS must have in order for it to be delivered.

This is slightly off-topic but very closely related and I'm hoping someone here can answer this.

In the UK, it used to be that mobile users paid to recieve calls. Thankfully, I'm pretty sure that this is now gone completely. However, I do still see some similar lack of control issues with SMS. One definite one is where you can be charged a high amount just by txting a particular number (e.g. txt 5 to $CHARITY). Another is where you can be charged for recieving particular services, but with no real security over how you sign up for it.

As a general principle, I don't like leaving it up to other people to decide how much money I owe them, so does anyone know anything about what you have to do to set these things up and anything I can do to take the power back?

Re:Hmm. (2, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666730)

yes and a good way to combat email spam is to not just have an email address. and don't have a normal address is a good way to get rid of normal junk mail.

I'd think it to go to the same category as fax spam.. spam that's possible to cut from happening by legislation/enforcing the current laws(sms does actually get used a lot in the real world by real people).

Re:Hmm. (1)

thue (121682) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666791)

Don't have text messaging enabled for your phone. ;-)

Here in Europe many people actually use their phones more for SMS than for talking in. I do. I have heard that people in the US don't really use SMS. (Is that still true?)

Though I know you were mostly joking, cell phone users on this side of the pond won't get the joke.

Re:Hmm. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666878)

In general, yes, people here (US) don't use text messaging frequently.

I've actually been surprised by some people who have, although it seems to be primarily younger people who are getting into it (treating it like short emails/instant messages) and of course the sys admins who have scripts send output to their phone.

Because of the cost (I have a flat rate GPRS plan) I usually just use e-mail on my phone, with an occasional message flagged and an indicator sent by SMS as well.

The biggest problems for SMS in the states are 1) recipient (usually) pays some cost, 2) T-Mobile and AT&T are the only companies I know of that have it enabled by default on new plans (last I checked it was an additional cost for Cingular, and Sprint had a short-email service which was incompatible--but this all might have changed), 3) Voice calls outgoing are pretty cheap; because people already paid for them when they pay their monthly dues people see them as 'free' (almost all US plans have a bank of 'minutes' that are deducted from during the month, after which the price for each minute in/out is pretty high) and as my dad points out, it's easier for him and cheaper, to just call and leave a 1 min voice mail than take the time to type out and send a text message.

Then again, my mom has been sending me texts for years now.

Re:Hmm. (-1, Flamebait)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666905)

don't be a fucking retard, SMS is one of the greatest communication advances ever. I'd rather live without email than SMS.

Re:Hmm. (4, Informative)

sheetsda (230887) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666820)

Source [junkbusters.com] - Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991

From Subpart L - Restrictions on Telephone Solicitation

L. No person may

a. Initiate any telephone call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice,

i. To any emergency telephone line, including any 911 line and any emergency line of a hospital, medical physician or service office, health care facility, poison control center, or fire protection or law enforcement agency;
ii. To the telephone line of any guest room or patient room of a hospital, health care facility, elderly home, or similar establishment; or
iii. To any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call;

(Emphasis mine) This appears to be the law that made calling cell phones illegal, but it seems it is specific to "telephone calls". I would think a good lawyer could argue that they're essentially the same thing though.

karma suicide!!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Neuropol (665537) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666524)

fp!!!!!

This isn't new (4, Informative)

Doomrat (615771) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666536)

This isn't new at all. I remember clearly getting phone spam back in 2001, and it wasn't for things I'd subscribed to via text messaging (I rarely used the phone, and certainly not for any of these fucking "TXT 4 KEWL LOGOS" services).

the worst (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666537)

And just when you thought butchering the English language couldn't get any worst...

Re:the worst (1)

rhyno46 (654622) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666602)

Hes jist miss spelling werds to beet the dashslot sp@m philter!

Re:the worst (1)

l3prador (700532) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666646)

You helped him out. The original had no apostrophe in "couldnt".

Re:the worst (4, Funny)

Epistax (544591) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666712)

Starting a sentence with and, then not finish the sentence (fragment) and using "worst" instead of worse.. Yes, you are right. I didn't think it could get any worse than that.

FCC regulations (5, Interesting)

pvt_medic (715692) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666542)

I think that we will quickly see law suits being filed over this, similar to the one we saw to fax.com. Many cellular companies charge for receiving text messages, and it would be a violation of FCC regulations to initiate such ads when the recipiant is being charged for them. (Also it is illegal for a telemarketer to call a cell phone, because of the charge ensued from having to use minutes).

Re:FCC regulations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666785)

People are paying for cable TV, yet they are still bothered with ads. Don't count on the FCC to give you free lunch. They are too busy censoring boobies and such insignificant issues.

What Next? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666544)

First Email, Then Phones.. Will next be my fridge?

Re:What Next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666633)

i thought the cupboard was first?

Re:What Next? (1)

thedirektor (737523) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666788)

Only when he gets a public IPv6 adress ;) maybe your embeded fridge operations system will be based upon Windows and have the messaging service running ;) You will get a popup "got milk?" when you open the fridge *g*

Re:What Next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666833)

Probably. [lge.com]

Re:What Next? (1)

markan18 (718118) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666853)

Sure, just look at this one [electrolux.com]

The major problem with SMS spam... (5, Insightful)

ketamine-bp (586203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666545)

Is that
(1) It is not easy to filter out, given the majority of people here now only uses phone that cannot be programmed easily (at least, not as easy as using the OE plugins or the MacosX Mail.app)
(2) Usually they are more intrusive - nowadays people carry cell phones around and when you are bugged by SMS spam TOGETHER with important SMS.. it's friggin' bad...
(3) They know where you read it... the positioning system of the GPS/w-cdma networks allow them to track your place...

now what? right - do it with legislation.

Re:The major problem with SMS spam... (3, Insightful)

foidulus (743482) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666659)

(1) It is not easy to filter out, given the majority of people here now only uses phone that cannot be programmed easily (at least, not as easy as using the OE plugins or the MacosX Mail.app)
Filters are NOT the answer to this problem. Spam is already taxing a lot of networks who have tons of bandwidth, imagine what a spam epedemic could do the cell phone networks...
Although this accompanied with cell phone virii could be great news for the Russian mafia, imagine threatening Verizon or Sprint with a DDOS attack.....

Re:The major problem with SMS spam... (1)

ketamine-bp (586203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666681)

definitely, as said at the end of my post, the solution is - right - legislation.

Re:The major problem with SMS spam... (1, Informative)

foidulus (743482) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666742)

I'm not sure legislation would be very effective. Just gets the spammers to move overseas. It would be able to track down the "tangible goods" spammers, possibly, if they are located in the US, but a lot of spam is data stuff too.
Maybe the best way to stop spam is to send an email to johnashcroft@doj.gov(I have no idea if this address is real, I just made it up) saying, "Spam funds terrorists, abortion doctors, welfare mothers, and drug addicts"
See how quickly the epedemic ends :)

Re:The major problem with SMS spam... (2, Insightful)

ketamine-bp (586203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666758)

the good thing about SMS spam is that it is related to phones - while overseas email does not cost any money (and so as SMS message through SMTP, but then this is not a big problem, so far.. because these address are hard to catch.) overseas SMS and overseas phone call costs a lot.

thus you never get overseas telemarketers.. :)

Re:The major problem with SMS spam... (3, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666739)

T-Mobile has a rather simple web-based application via which a customer can establish rule-based settings for which SMS messages they would like to get or world like trapped out. Therefore, the configuration doesn't have to be done at the phone itself, it's done via a web browser at a full-featured PC.

Re:The major problem with SMS spam... (4, Informative)

KC7GR (473279) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666801)

Ketamine-bp wrote...

"(3) They know where you read it... the positioning system of the GPS/w-cdma networks allow them to track your place..."

Not true in all cases, nor at all times. All the GPS-enabled phones I've seen to date do not automatically broadcast one's position. They do so only when you're making or receiving an actual call. Also, the network itself has to be able to interpret and pass on the GPS data received. If you're hitched into a 'legacy' analog network, or a digital one that has not been updated to handle the e-911 feature set, your phone can spew its position data all it wants to no avail.

I'm not sure how it is for phones other than Motorola and Nokia, but the ones I've seen let you configure the GPS function to transmit position only for 911 calls or for all calls.

Here's the problem: The phones I've played with all come with the locator feature set to "Transmit on all calls" by default, and it takes some digging in the menu tree [mobiledia.com] to find the feature and change it. Hardly anyone actually reads the manual for electronic equipment, let alone digs into the deep menus to play with low-level functions.

Even worse, you can't turn the GPS functionality off altogether because the FCC made its presence mandatory for the new E-911 systems. [compukiss.com]

Re:The major problem with SMS spam... (1)

ketamine-bp (586203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666851)

oops, my fault. i wanted to type "GSM"...

the positioning system for the phone-company spam is by the receiver you are currently listening to.

Sweet (-1, Offtopic)

Hatta (162192) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666546)

Ammunation now stocks assault rifles!

This is a big problem in Japan (4, Interesting)

foidulus (743482) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666557)

I was there last year, and the day after I got my cell phone, before I had even given the number out to anyone, I managed to get SMS spam. Porn spam to boot. Needless to say I was both impressed and annoyed.
The cell phone structure in Japan though makes it a bit easier to spam(the carrier I had, KDDI uses your cell # to do SMS). Unlike the US where your cell # area code is based on location, in Japan all cell phones have either 090, 080(and 081 I think) so the spammers just used an SMS equivalent of an autodialer I do believe. Though I never got any SMTP spam while I had the phone...

SMS is somewhat protected anyway, isn't it? (4, Insightful)

beh (4759) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666558)


For one thing - SMS are limited to 160 characters, and secondly - SMS cost money to send. Granted - even email costs money, but you could send probably several thousand emails of a few kb each for less than US$1. With SMS you're paying a few cents for each individual SMS of max 160chars. Therefore for SMS spam to become a real phenomenon, you would need way higher returns for the messages you send.

Re:SMS is somewhat protected anyway, isn't it? (2, Informative)

ketamine-bp (586203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666588)

In China, Hong Kong and many places, SMS advertising is available at a flat rate...

We at hong Kong often receive messages from the cellphone providers and are very pissed off by them.. but then for some reasons they disappeared in these few months.

Re:SMS is somewhat protected anyway, isn't it? (1)

Jane_Dozey (759010) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666605)

There are online services that allow you to send sms messages for free.

Re:SMS is somewhat protected anyway, isn't it? (4, Insightful)

anakin357 (69114) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666611)

The problem is this, that most cell phone providers have an email gateway into their network, as a courtesy and convenience.

For example: 5555551212@provider.net

So what happens is the spammers use the same techniques of spamming regular email addresses but it's too easy to guess an email address with a number that is in a fixed format, a number that doesn't bounce usually incremented by 1 is a good place to goto next.

Re:SMS is somewhat protected anyway, isn't it? (3, Informative)

pvt_medic (715692) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666615)

YOu can send text messages to a cell phone from an e-mail. Usually you have younumber@vtext.com (Verizon) or soemthign like that. So it is really cheap to send them out, just another e-amil address for the spammers to add to their list.

Re:SMS is somewhat protected anyway, isn't it? (2, Insightful)

gerardrj (207690) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666623)

SMS is frequently free to send. All the SMS services I've seen have a web interface at the carrier's web site. Anyone cans send a message through these web interfaces for free.
It's a LOT easier for a spammer to figure out SMS addresses (almost always the phone number) than email addresses. A simple random number generator and a a script can send potentially thousands of messages a minute

Re:SMS is somewhat protected anyway, isn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666775)

> A simple random number generator and a a script can send potentially thousands of messages a minute

imagine a beowu....n/m

Re:SMS is somewhat protected anyway, isn't it? (1)

AdamInParadise (257888) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666818)

Not so fast. Those web forms usually limit you to 1 or 2 SMS per day. I guess that you could also automate the creation of a new account, but the company offering the web interface pays for each 'free' SMS, so I bet that the form is heavily secured.

Spammers sending SMSs usually buy them in bulk from operators, directly or through a third party. The second option is simply to use stacks of GSM modems, but it is costly.

Regards,

Re:SMS is somewhat protected anyway, isn't it? (2, Insightful)

kunudo (773239) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666679)

All the phones I've had since '99 or something have been able to combine up to six messages into one. They do this by setting some header in the message. So it's 6*160=960 characters. All new phones here do this (euro, everywhere else too, probably). Also, on the cost issue: If you have some cash you can buy, say 300000 messages is some eastern european country for cheap (bulk from some provider), typically at 1% of the consumer price. Then you just send from that country into some other country. The reciever in the sms may complain to his provider, but it's hard for them to do anything about it, because it didn't originate on their network, and they can't block the entire range of eastern european countries from sending sms to their networks, because there's some legitimate use too. Same problem as with spam.

Re:SMS is somewhat protected anyway, isn't it? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666691)

> you could send probably several thousand emails of a few kb each for less than US$1

true, but the percentage of spam email that gets read is much lower than the percentage of people that actually listen to the SMS cell spam...so this way their message gets to more people and in turn has much higher return potential...

theoretically of course...

Re:SMS is somewhat protected anyway, isn't it? (2, Interesting)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666806)

In Holland there are cases of people digging ground cables and hiding autodialers.
This was normal POTS and many years ago, I am afraid this trick is also being used.

Add up modern day WiFi and you have autodialers picking up instructions through WiFi channels.
BTW same can be said for RFID, we will have some very disruptive times with "WiFi~Other tech" connections coming years...

The means to interconnect everything will also bring that some people are able to make dozens if not hundreds of connections throughout several different network systems.
Now try to find them, even with sophisticated stuff, time-frames will be the future fight in cracking and defencing.
You will see traveling virusses clinging along on various packet movement then leaving the path and change from internet to cellphone/GSM networks, then again spreading through rouge WiFi channels.

Interesting and very disruptive times...

Re:SMS is somewhat protected anyway, isn't it? (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666879)

I forgot to mention one thing...

DRM...

DRM will kill the various networks very soon.
I predicted in my journal of last februari already that soon we will see DRM enabled virusses that cannot be removed again from a DRM'ed system untill the whole DRM is taken out.

http://slashdot.org/~Yaa%20101/journal/60385

Now imagine a DRM'ed G3 platform with several DRM'ed virusses on it?
How much do you think a network like that is worth?
Indeed, nothing, only fools will get 1 time a subscription and after the experience never again.

In a way i am glad with spam, spyware and other disruptive tech.
They make it hard, if not imposible for despotic governments to use tech to suppress people, because these tech attack the system one way or another and make any underlaying system funrable at various moments.

ICQ SMS (1)

mindaktiviti (630001) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666873)

That's funny, because whenever I send my cousin an SMS from icq, I don't get charged for it.

110 characters (2, Informative)

viggen9 (192812) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666561)

At least the messages are limited to 110 characters on my old Nokia / attwireless setup.

Global spam solution? (2, Interesting)

loony (37622) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666565)

We already went though fax spam, email spam, telemarketers and of course everyone's favorite - junk in your snail mail box.
I think its time that we come up with a more global view of things. A single list similar to the do-not-call list but that will allow you to get blacklisted for every kind of communications. I know many people have reservations like that spammers will use these lists as a source of valid email addresses, but you can get around that by allowing the user to select which one of their contacts they want on there...

Peter.

Re:Global spam solution? (2)

Yer Mom (78107) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666689)

Better: a single list that you have to sign up to if you want to receive ads. The default should be "leave me alone".

What's that, Mr Marketer? Nobody will sign up and you won't have an audience? I believe the phrase is "my heart pumps piss"...

Companies (4, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666566)

Companies won't stop cell phone abuse because it means higher dollars for them. Plus it means they can sell services to block the abuse, which is generally a pattern from regular phone companies selling caller-id, call blocking... etc.

Wherever there's money, there's abuse of power.

Re:Companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666794)

don't they get paid by both parties...sender and reciever?

i can see why they wouldnt want to try to stop it...

In the UK... (5, Informative)

electrichamster (703053) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666573)

In the UK I've been recieving text message spam for a while, and recently there has been a massive surge in the number of text message "Scams" being sent out.
Generally of the type "You have a new voicemail, call XXX to listen to it", where XXX is a premium rate number.

Highly, highly irritating - now all we need is a baysian text message filter ;)

Re:In the UK... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666700)

Easy to block it

ICSTIS [icstis.org.uk]

Preference service [icstis.org.uk]

Stop yer whinging and sign up if you are so worried.

Re:In the UK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666721)

Mod parent as -1 CLUELESS its easy to block, he just doesn't want to.

Re:In the UK... (1)

electrichamster (703053) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666897)

If someone had informed me that I could opt out (which I now do) then I would - opting out of spam texts isn't exactly well known.
This whole /. thread is spawned from that fact.

Re:In the UK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666920)

Ask youre carrier, they will point you to ICSTIS. They even (orange does) have a number you can forward youre SMSs to for them to investigate.

I suggest you go to youre carrier web page and search under help and support or even now and then go to ofcom homepage.

Nobody told me, yet I know about it.

Re:In the UK... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666769)

I registered my mobile to ICSTIS preference service and I dont get ANY spam, I guess you are doing something wrong :D

You must be English, that explains why you are a clueless tard ROFL

Re:In the UK... (4, Informative)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666782)

So have I, so I forwarded a couple of the messages to ICSTIS and they stopped practically overnight. Best of all, as this article [icstis.org.uk] shows, ICSTIS has teeth and isn't afraid to bite and name names afterward. Note that in additional to the UKP 75,000 fines, all six companies were banned from operating in the UK. Combine that with this [bbc.co.uk] upcoming operating guideline and hopefully SMS spam in the UK might not even get off the ground.

Re:In the UK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666799)

Not just SMS spam but they also handle snail mail spam, telephone calling, and fax spam they can stop.

I recommend signing up.

The only way you can get spam this way is by OPTING IN like I do with my carrier for SMS notifications for monthly freebies like credits or talk time etc :D

Re:In the UK... (1)

electrichamster (703053) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666863)

Rubbish - I've NEVER done that with my current phone, and I still get them...

Re:In the UK... (2, Funny)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666864)

I get those.

I also get ones from "Lust" saying that someone has a secret crush on me and to call a premium rate number to find out who...hmm, not bloody likely :)

this is way WAY out of line (1)

spacerodent (790183) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666577)

hopfully this will help outrage the average joe finally. Phone spam annoyed people but usually didn't cost them anything and it provoked some good 'ol fasioned outrage and finally got legal attention. Email spam is pretty much the same thing. But this WILL cost the average joe so hopfully we'll see some immedate action rather than the slow "lets live with it..oh wait its annoying..oh shit fuck this" mentality. I really cannot understand why unsolicited advertising isn't illegal already.

Re:this is way WAY out of line (2, Insightful)

Xhad (746307) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666845)

I really cannot understand why unsolicited advertising isn't illegal already.

Because a handful of people with a lot of money like the fact that it exists.

UK sms spam (3, Interesting)

solidox (650158) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666581)

here in the uk we've been getting spam through our mobiles for a long time now, many years.
there has also been chainmail too.

its getting worse? (1)

Cat_Byte (621676) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666582)

I had this problem for about 2-3 years. I finally got them to turn the stupid message thing off on my phone after arguing over the bill every month. Is it getting worse or did someone just now notice? Wondering why this is news.

You know what this means! (5, Funny)

SushiFugu (593444) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666584)

Fast forward a year or so from now: "Ask Slashdot: Where Do Dummy Cell Phone Numbers Go?"

Different Approach to Spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666589)

Since people are having such a hard time locating the origin of the spams/spammers, why not take legal action against those company that endorses spam (ie. those company that advertise through spam).

Don't use one (1)

farmerboy1967 (690675) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666620)

All the more reason NOT to have a cell phone

So they said few years ago (1)

Cred (754775) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666621)

They are repeating this.. Just like a religion. I mean the first time when they started to claim that mobiles are going to be spammed. What's up with that? Time to upgrade our SMS capable phones to UMTS capable so the porn ads and local supermarkets can legally send us legal ads? Time to upgrade so that we feel necessary to buy McAfee Spamkiller v5000 or something?

Sausages! (3, Funny)

ksp (203038) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666624)

Just when you thought that spam couldn't get any worst...

And this happended just when I thought my wursts couldn't get any more spam...

Probably a bit offtopic... (0, Offtopic)

Firefly1 (251590) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666630)

...but the following excerpt from the BW article [businessweek.com] caught my attention:
Says one young man: "If my girlfriend sends me an e-mail note, I spend hours agonizing over what I think she really means."
From that statement alone, one could infer that said girlfriend has issues with being open (and maybe honest)... and that, in turn, leads readily to the conclusion that "Houston, this relationship has a problem."

getting attention of congress (1)

janneH (720747) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666636)

I get the impression that most Senators and people at that level have other people read their email, and that they don't always feel the impact of spam the way the rest of us do. But their messing with their cell phones has got to be a completely different matter. So the upside might be that this actually gets their attention. The downside - I am not sure if I trust the government to develop legislation that does not throw the baby out with the bath water.

As the Agent Smith... (1)

bill_doors (757981) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666645)

Spam remind me the last movie of the Matrix series... specifically the Agent Smith... Spam is getting in everything and looks like nobody can stop it... do we need a Neo for this???

Better blocking on phones (2, Insightful)

Yer Mom (78107) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666650)

I'd love to know why phones don't have any filtering options. My Nokia lets me assign different ring tones to different caller groups, and to disable ringing for selected groups - most of the time, my phone won't even ring if the caller's not in my phone book.

So why can't they implement a similar function for SMS? If the number's not in my phone book, I don't want to hear a tone, and I don't want the message sitting on my phone - just flush it straight away.

Re:Better blocking on phones (1)

obli (650741) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666711)

Flush it straight away to what? Nothingness?

What if it was a "real" message as the case is with fresh, uncofigurated spam filters? Then we'd have to solve it with a 'junk folder', which takes us back to SMS's bogging up the phone memory.

But the idea with spam not making a stupid noise that will piss off every librarian within 20 years radius is good, though.

Re:Better blocking on phones (2, Interesting)

xanadu-xtroot.com (450073) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666921)

most of the time, my phone won't even ring if the caller's not in my phone book.

This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. I have a cell phone for emergencies (and general communication). If my Son gets run over and his Mom is calling me from a hospital, your idea means I'd never know about when she tried calling. There's no way to type in all the possible numbers of someone / ANYone that *could* possibly call - and have them be VERY important calls at that.

Don't look to companies to solve this problem (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666656)

The only way you'll see cell companies scrambling to prevent SMS spam is if their revenues would be adversely affected by not doing so. If cell companies learn that their subscribers are turning their cellphones off when not in use or are cancelling their SMS service altogether, then they they sit up and take notice. Otherwise SMS spam delivery actually helps their bottom line and they won't be inclined to prevent it.

Damn info harvesters (4, Informative)

obli (650741) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666680)

I've been pestered ocassionally with SMS spam, but I had no idea how and where those foghats got my number from. Then recently, maybe two days ago, I discovered a site that could do reverse lookup on numbers in my country, It found me from my number, in a goddamn public list, I checked a few more similiar sites and about half of them knew about me. It appears that my WSP sold the numbers of anyone they had connected with a name, out there on the internet they're defenseless against them evil info harvesters. Sellouts... Death to Vodafone!

Sender paying for spamming? (2, Interesting)

hhg (200613) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666699)

I predict this will never catch on. At least not in Europe. Here the sender pays for sent text-messages, which makes the spammer pay big money if he is to spread the word. In adidtion, it is very easy to trace messages wntering the phone-network, and thus it is very easy to catch the offenders.

Wrong (1)

mindaktiviti (630001) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666922)

It's very easy to send SMS without paying for it. Try ICQ as a start.

Limited domain for guessing (2, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666707)

Each of the major cell phone providers have an e-mail to SMS gateway relaying all messages to [10-digit-number]@[provider's domain] to the appropriate cell phone of it exists on their network.

Not only does that mean that there's only 10 billion possible combinations that can go in that 10-digit-number slot, since all those numbers come in the form [area code]-[exchange]-[4 digits] they can start focusing on the exchanges that have been allocated to wireless providers to get a very high success rate. If you know that 508-335-xxxx belongs to Cingular, you can take a pretty good shot at aiming 10,000 messages at all the combinations of that number on Cingular's SMS domain, and a majority of them will most likely hit devices.

Of course, number portablity now introduces the possiblity that a number is now no longer with the original provider who owned the exchange allocation, but that'd be only a dent in a pretty high success rate to begin with. Remember that spammers need only a .001ish% response rate to justify their operations... so any tool this strong is dangerous in the hands of "guess and check" operations.

I remember the old Prodigy service had the limited domain of addresses in the form of [four letters][two digits][letter from a-f]@prodigy.com and spammers had a field day of being able to discover such addresses from them being posted on the service and just deducing others.

Off? (1)

Zoko Siman (585929) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666714)

I don't have a mobile myself so, concider me un-educated. But shouldn't there be some 'turn off SMS' option? That would make the most sence to me.

Re:Off? (2, Insightful)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666919)

You can just turn off the ringer for SMS I guess, but on my phone at least, you can't disable it completely (that I know).

The big problem with just turning off SMS is that most people use SMS (Or at least, us teenagers do), and there is no reason for the option.

Bluetooth spam (1)

toetagger1 (795806) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666716)

There allready is bluetooth spam [zdnet.co.uk] .

I wonder how long it will be before the first worms show up probagating via bluetooth interfaces, turning cellphones into bots sending out mass SMS spam...oh, wait a minute...Why only cell phones, why not as well printers [symantec.com] or any other bluetooth device? Next thing you know, your printer starts printing all that pr0n spam!

Consent is bogus (1)

fleener (140714) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666733)

Forget about laws requiring companies to have your consent before that contact you. In the USA, corporations on the national level insert loopholes. For example, if you buy something from a company, or simply ask it a question, suddenly they have your consent to contact you in the future. The govertnment's approach to privacy is opt-out.

Anyone who has bought anything from a web site (or God forbid, simply asked a question by e-mail) knows what I'm talking about. Why would SMS legislation in the USA be any different? Corporate lobbyists want to protect 'legitimate' corporate spam.

Re:Consent is bogus (2, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666842)

Spam is in the eye of the beholder. Some people welcome discount offers from Amazon.com in their e-mail, others consider that to be Spam. Your right to have the messages you don't want blocked ends where it starts to interfere with somebody getting messages that they actually want.

Opt-in consent is the best system we have... if you really want to opt-out you should have the blocks set up on the systems you control because clearly an opt-out-by-law system is never going to function.

The Phone companies spam as well (2, Interesting)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666737)

Virtually all of the spam SMS-messages I get are from phone companies themselves.

My own 'provider' (Vodaphone) broadcasts the occasional multimedia message so I can see how unspeakably wonderful they are, but that is a relatively minor irritant.

Whenever I leave the country - Germany - the local providers all send me messages in German welcoming me to their networks and suggesting ways I can enhance my experience there by dialing certain numbers. You get one of these messages each week (Sunday to Saturday) so a weekend somewhere will generate one message when I get there and another one on Sunday for each network my phone happens to roam into. This is annoying enough when I am not at the wheel, but goes way beyond that when I am driving and expecting a serious message. No, I do not want to pull over and check my mobile every time some cretinous phone company wants me to check out their 'recipe of the week'.

Anything that allows me to whack them with a big stick is welcome by me.

shocked and confused (4, Interesting)

gerardrj (207690) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666745)

First the confusion: The article was written in November of 2003, 9 months ago. SMS has been available for at least 8 years (perhaps not under that name) so why does the article talk about "early adopters"?

Second, the shocked part:

I recently started receiving SMS spam on my Nextel phone. I've has SMS and standard email on the phone for at least 5 years and just recently started receiving junk messages on it. At least once a day I'd get some garbled text telling me to call some number in Seattle, WA to purchase a college degree.
The thing that shocked me was that Nextel does not indicate the source of the message on the phone that received it, You just get the text and the date/time stamp it was received.
I called customer service and technical support, both informed me that Nextel there is no way to track the source of such a message (this is blatantly false, they just don't bother to track it), and that there was no way to block such messages by sender. If I didn't want the messages I'd just have to turn off the service all together.
That simply isn't an option as SMS is one of the ways I monitor my systems; ie: all root logins from anyplace other than approved machines get sent to my phone; important client messages get through on SMS when I have my ringer off at night, etc.
In the end all they did was refund my monthly messaging fee.

I finally gave up, called the number that was listed in the messages and threatened criminal and/or civil action if I received any more messages on my cell phone from them.

I haven't received any more junk in the week since that call. In the end I guess I'm out the nickel it cost to call long distance for a minute.

I just can't understand how a company can charge you for incoming messages when they have no way for you to filter them or even know the source of the message. How could they not see anonymous on-way communication as a potential (likely) source of abuse?

Whitelist (3, Interesting)

Aliencow (653119) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666746)

I'd like a phone that allows SMS only from people in my contacts...

Cellphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9666748)

luckily i do no use or need my cellphone much, so it is almost always turned off unless i go on an errand and need to talk while on the run, or if i am going out of town on a road trip (for emergencys)

Texting is not free. (2, Insightful)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666754)

I have received SMS spam, but unlike email, it costs the sender money, thereby limiting the scale of the abuse.

The scam that has been turned up recently over here in the UK has been targetting schoolchildren. You get an SMS saying that someone fancies you, or something like that. You reply, and get hit for a 1.50 ($3) charge. However, the regulations were recently changed to prevent this kind of thing - IIRC, you're not allowed to send an SMS that doesn't explicitly state if the reply is going to cost more than normal.

Bouncing mails problem (-1, Offtopic)

Eudial (590661) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666761)

I've been fooling around with pop3 servers for quite some time, and i've discovered that if you put a message like this in the box:
Subject: Hey
From: John Doe <qwerty@domain.com>
Sender: John Doe <qwerty@domain.com>
Content-type: text/plain

[a very long message, say perhaps 250-300 mb]
And retreive it with fetchmail on a system that uses Sendmail, it will pass it on to sendmail, which will reject it, and bounce it back to the sender... which is bad. Especially since there is a very few mail clients which does not crash when they receive messages in that size.

why sms? (1)

A_GREER (761429) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666762)

SMS, to me is a pain in the ass no matter who the message is from, if I want to do text I would buy a blackberry, I have a cell phonr to...um, I dunno...TALK.

DEATH TO SMS

START???? oh no, i am getting spam 3 years... (2, Interesting)

kyknos.org (643709) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666771)

I am getting spam to my mobile phone for, say 3 years. Now it is ok because my phone was stolen, so I have new a fresh number. I live in EU, Czechia. Enjoy, whoever is using that spammy number now!

Shortmail woes (1)

Yim (268074) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666796)

The most frequent problem with spam I've gotten using 2 carriers (Sprint and KDDI [au]) was with the damn shortmail function. I had the service shortly (pun?) with Sprint, dropping it after the free trial ended. However I still frequently receive spam over that service, which clearly has a different address than the regular phone e-mail address. I could understand that the KDDI plan had spammers, as the service was free with the phone plan unlike Sprint, but I'm more concerned if Sprint factors in a charge for handling spam, as in if they charge the receiver extra for the data transmission in their phone bill. Maybe nothing more than a penny per datagram, but still, I'm sure they're making their cut to handle the spam, especially for users that would get charged if they used the service to delete the offending shortmail and weren't subscribers, as the phone still has the capability for these functions. Kind of a double edged sword for the customer. Get charged for the subscription service and receive spam, or get charged for spam without the subscription.

This is bad enough, but... (2, Interesting)

emorphien (770500) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666807)

A lot of people are paying for SMS service. Paying. Some people pay for email as well, but not by the message, and the postal mail is in our taxes... but again we don't pay for each delivered message.

But with many SMS providers do they not have a certain fee for a certain number of messages? In effect these spam messages would then be eating in to the allotted # of SMS use you paid for. I don't like that.

I don't know the laws, and I don't care to really because if they don't protect you from this (just referring to the US right now), then I don't want to hear about the laws.

Thank god i haven't received any spam shit yet.

UK, sender pays... 2 spam txts (1)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666857)

I've had 2 spam text messages this year. One from Orange (bastards). I got 3 last year, so not a massive problem.

What I do (5, Interesting)

AnimeFreak (223792) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666877)

In order to text message me on my cell phone, you must include my nickname enclosed in brackets -- ie: (AnimeFreak). That way spammers have a harder time spamming me.

My GSM/GPRS provider included it in their service, so I made use of it.

Been there before with Verizon... (4, Interesting)

ChilyWily (162187) | more than 10 years ago | (#9666918)

Yup, after about 1.5 years of no spam, suddenly, I started to receive SMS messages in spanish! I called Verizon and told them that since they were just a dozen or so junk messages, I was igonring them, but that they should remove the 10cent per message charge from my bill.

The Verizon droid told me that she would 'enhance' my service to a $2.99 per month charge where I would be able to receive 'unlimited' SMS messages!

To make a long story short, I got those charges removed but decided to remove the SMS option from the cellphone because there is no winning when the cellphone company colludes with the spammers.
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