[LINK] mobile phone spam

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Sat Jun 14 07:47:53 AEST 2008

Also, Scott, I think the Australian regulation which forbids anonymous 
SMS helps prevent SMS spam.

Aside: I really hate it when, as so often happens, local news outlets 
run with a US lead without checking the local market. It isn't the case 
here (since it's clearly an NYT article) but I have seen the "security 
vendor warns against SMS spam" press releases reprinted here, complete 
with the "what's worse, you pay to retrieve the spam" line.


Scott Howard wrote:
> SMS Spam isn't anywhere near as big a problem in Australia as it is in the
> US for one simple reason - in the US, SMS is receiver pays.
> For Australian providers, free email->SMS gateways mean zero revenue so they
> generally aren't offered, but for US providers where the receiver pays for
> the SMS they are not only freely available, but configured on by default for
> most providers. As per Pogue's article, this is where the vast majority of
> SMS spam enters the network - via email.
>   Scott.
> On Fri, Jun 13, 2008 at 1:20 AM, <stephen at melbpc.org.au> wrote:
>> Can people block net-sms-spam in Australia, anyone know?
>> --
>> How to Block Cellphone Spam
>> www.nytimes.com
>> June 12th 2008
>> If I told you that today's e-column would change your life, would you mind
>> that it's sort of short?
>> The story goes like this. A few weeks ago, in my blog (nytimes.com/pogue),
>> I wrote this:
>> "OK, now I'm really, REALLY annoyed. Within a week, my wife and I have
>> both started getting spam text messages on our Verizon cellphones. I know
>> that this is nothing new, but it's new for us, and it's apparently getting
>> worse.
>> "According to Wikipedia, this sleazy practice is described as 'mobile
>> spamming, SMS spam or SpaSMS, but is most frequently referred to as m-
>> spam.'
>> "It's actually far worse than regular e-mail spam, for three reasons.
>> First, you generally can't delete it without opening it first.
>> "Second, you have to pay for it. (And, of course, the senders pay nothing,
>> since they can send text messages from a computer's e-mail program for
>> nothing.)
>> "Third, there's no way to stop it. You can't install an anti-SMS spam
>> program on your cellphone.
>> "If you're not feeling helpless and livid already, if you're not already
>> storming your carrier and Congress, I can think of only one reason: you
>> haven't been m-spammed yet. But your time will come."
>> Shortly thereafter, I heard from an AT&T representative who revealed the
>> presence of an astonishing little-known cellular feature: you can block
>> cellular spam.
>> "Our customers can get onto our Web site," he wrote, "and set their
>> handset so that it receives no messages from the Internet, the origin of
>> the vast majority of wireless spam."
>> He also said:
>> "Text messages sent from the Internet are addressed as follows: [Your 10-
>> digit wireless number]@txt.att.net.
>> "What spammers try to do, of course, is attempt to guess your number,
>> largely by trial and error. This brings me to the second capability we
>> offer our customers. Let's say you want to block spam, but still want to
>> receive messages originating from the Net that you would actually find
>> useful (airline schedules, hotel reservations, etc.). For this purpose, we
>> let you replace your wireless number with an alias. It could be some
>> quirky name, or whatever you like. [You share this address only with
>> people you know.] This could disrupt the guessing game spammers play to
>> try to discern your number and sent you their junk.
>> "Though not perfect, our efforts have helped keep spam in the category of
>> minor, though annoying, phenomenon. Thanks for listening."
>> The beauty of this feature, of course, is that it blocks ONLY text
>> messages from the Internet. Your friends, using cellphones, can still text
>> you.
>> As it turns out, Verizon Wireless offers these features, too. Sprint and T-
>> Mobile don't go quite as far, but they do offer some text-spam filtering
>> options. Here's how you find the controls for each company:
>> * AT&T: Log in at mymessages.wireless.att.com. Under Preferences, you'll
>> see the text-blocking and alias options. Here's also where you can block
>> messages from specific e-mail addresses or Web sites.
>> * Verizon Wireless: Log in at vtext.com. Under Text Messaging, click
>> Preferences. Click Text Blocking. You're offered choices to block text
>> messages from e-mail or from the Web. Here again, you can block specific
>> addresses or Web sites. (Here's where you set up your aliases, too.)
>> * Sprint: No auto-blocking is available at all, but you can block specific
>> phone numbers and addresses. To get started, log in at www.sprint.com. On
>> the top navigation bar, click My Online Tools. Under Communication Tools,
>> click Text Messaging. On the Compose a Text Message page, under Text
>> Messaging Options, click Settings & Preferences. In the text box, you can
>> enter a phone number, email address or domain (such as Comcast.net) that
>> you want to block.
>> * T-Mobile: T-Mobile doesn't yet offer a "block text messages from the
>> Internet" option. You can block all messages sent by e-mail, though, or
>> permit only messages sent to your phone's e-mail address or alias, or
>> create filters that block text messages containing certain phrases. It's
>> all waiting when you log into www.t-mobile.com and click Communication
>> Tools.
>> As soon as I heard about all this, I went to the Verizon Wireless page for
>> my own account and turned on the "block" options.
>> And you know what? We haven't had a single piece of cellphone spam since.
>> Visit David Pogue on the Web at www.DavidPogue.com
>> --
>> Cheers people
>> Stephen Loosley
>> Victoria Australia
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