Spam to Go

Carl Weinschenk

The effectiveness of the CAN-SPAM law is the subject of debate. However, any supposed or real limitations aren't stopping Congress from looking to extend it to mobile devices. Many sources, including InformationWeek, report that Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D.-Fla.) have introduced a mobile adjunct to CAN-SPAM. It is, quite reasonably, called m-Spam. The story says that if enacted into law, m-Spam would give the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission tools to curb unauthorized calls to mobile devices and short message service (SMS) spam.

 

The piece cites Ferris Resarch stats that show an increase in spam text messages between 2006 and 2007. This ZDNet blogger may be in the majority when says that he personally hasn't seen an increase in SMS spam. He agrees that it is proliferating, however. Indeed, he says that the pattern of growth seems to be replicating what occurred in Asia. That's not very good news, since last year mobile phone users in China were estimated to have received more than 300 billion spam messages. The piece, which relies on research done by Cloudmark, cites as an example the damaging "Crush Spam" attack, which was distributed via many avenues, including SMS.


<strong>I've written before about the world of smartphone security</strong>. The landscape is far different than desktop security, and that this corner of the security world is on the cusp of change. There are many layers to this, but the bottom line is that the explosive growth mobile devices during the past decade and the increasing average value of the information in each device makes them a juicier target.The bad folks are innovating, which doesn't bode well. F-Secure's chief research officer quoted in Secure Computing, says that Sexy View is the first text message worm and the first mobile worm that isn't blocked by signature checks. Its task, Mikko Hypponen says, appears to be to collect information for subsequent spamming.

 

The good news is that subscribers have an increasing amount of security software from which to choose. This feature, at Dance with Shadows, provide in-depth looks at five mobile security suites. It seems that these suites provide many of the same safeguards but -- at least according to the descriptions in the piece -- have slightly different orientations.

 

  • Kaspersky Mobile Security, the piece says, guards against SMS spam Trojans, viruses and worms. Robust SMS communications between the device and the subscriber, including theft notifications and the ability to wipe information, is offered.

 

  • F-Secure Mobile Security provides a firewall and real-time antivirus and anti-spam. Mobile device locking and wiping is featured.

 

  • Norton Smartphone Security minimizes SMS spams and blocks snoopware and multimedia messages from unknown senders.

 

  • NetQin Anti-virus provides file scanning, real-time monitoring, virus blocking, SMS threat mitigation and other safeguard.

 

  • Trend Micro Mobile Security offers smartphones and cell phones protection from viruses, SMS spam, spyware, Trojans, denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and hackers. The piece offers a rundown of the extensive number of devices for which it is suited.

 

There is hope in the fight against SMS spam and unsolicited calls to mobile phones. Last month, Verizon Wireless settled a suit against Feature Films for Families for $25,000. BlackBerry Cool reports that the telemarketing company, which is based in Utah, had made almost 500,000 unsolicited calls during a 10-day period in February to promote the movie "The Velveteen Rabbit." The company donated the settlement money to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.



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