Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mobile users at increasing risk from sophisticated SMS scams, warns AdaptiveMobile

DUBLIN, IRELAND: With spam SMS messages becoming a growing phenomenon and numbers having dramatically risen over the past ten months, AdaptiveMobile today issues a firm reminder to mobile users to remain vigilant of unsolicited content received on their handsets.

AdaptiveMobile, which was featured on last week’s BBC Watchdog programme discussing the growing problem of SMS spam, warns that text scams can originate from a variety of sources and it is becoming evident that fraudsters are advancing in the ways in which they can target mobile users.

Threats can range from simple social engineering attacks that apply to any mobile handset, such as Missed Call Alerts or SMS messages claiming the recipient has won a prize draw and invites users to reply via SMS or by calling a premium rate number, through to more sophisticated attacks that exploit Smartphone capabilities to connect to the internet, resulting in click fraud or as an entry vector for mobile viruses.

Recent data from one of the biggest operator groups we work with shows that each month it blocks on average 1.6 million unwanted incoming SMS messages per country from other operators –60 per cent of which are rogue advertising messages.

The mobile phone is such a personal device and people have grown too trusting when it comes to the content on their handsets. If recipients receive an SMS message, many click on it without a second thought, which is all it takes for the fraudulent activity to begin. Whilst some mobile operators are working to combat these threats at a network level, users also need to play their part if they’re to stay safe in an increasingly mobile world.

AdaptiveMobile advises users to consider the following steps to protect themselves against SMS spam:

Check mobile bills: Mobile users should always check their bill. If they think they are losing credit or have unusually high charges, they should call their mobile operator immediately.

Treat an SMS text as email: Consumers should treat SMS with the same caution as email – messages sent may not always be from legitimate senders, despite many looking like they are. Apparent senders can easily be faked, so looking them up on the web and calling the number given on the website can be a simple way to check.

Beware of “opt-outs”: Subscribers should be aware that options being offered in messages to “opt-out” may actually be a fraudulent attempt to get users signed up. If there are concerns that this is the case, they should call their mobile operator and state that they have responded with a stop command to the sender.

Be cautious with URLs: If a URL is given in a text, users shouldn’t access it on their phone. Instead, they should type it in to a PC browser to check the site – a more secure way to access and double check links.

Gareth Maclachlan, COO, AdaptiveMobile, comments: "With the growing number and complexity of mobile security threats being targeted at mobile users, combined with the increasing penetration of ‘smarter’ devices, mobile operators need to ensure customers are protected and stay one step ahead of the threats.

"Mobile operators now understand that traditional approaches to securing networks are no longer adequate in coping with the rising number and sophistication of attacks and operators are now taking proactive steps to ensure that this is the case. In a competitive industry where trust is key to reducing churn and maximising each customer relationship, those operators that strive to protect their subscribers will be the ones that ultimately succeed in winning and retaining customers."

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