Operators team up with GSMA and ICO in fight against spam

Operators team up with GSMA and ICO in fight against spam

EE, O2, Vodafone and Three are teaming up with the GSMA to clamp down on spam nuisance text messages as threats increase.

The worldwide authority and the operators will also be working with the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The Spam Reporting Service, monitored by the GSMA, will allow UK mobile phone users to report spam by sending a free text to 7726 or ‘SPAM’ on a traditional keypad.

GSMA CEO John Hoffman (pictured) said: ‘Increasing numbers of consumers are victims of spam and mobile network operators are working hard defending against these threats. The GSMA Spam Reporting Service provides operators with a tool to measure the extent of fraud and phishing and provides the insight needed to address sophisticated messaging threats that could harm users. By working closely with the ICO, the UK’s operators are making it more difficult for spammers and fraudsters to target mobile phone users in this country.’

The service lets operators share information on threats in real time in order to nullify them in unison. Information is ‘aggregated and analysed’ to give operators details and origins of the attacks. Cloudmark Inc will be powering the service.

Cloudmark CTO Neil Cook said: ‘We’re pleased to be powering the GSMA Spam Reporting Service that gives the industry vital intelligence that helps our partners and their customers report and stop unsolicited or malicious text messages. Our estimates, based on data from the Spam Reporting Service, suggest that as many as 516 million unsolicited SMS messages were received in the UK in the second half of 2013 and with an estimated 99 million received in February 2014 alone; we’re proud to be powering the industry’s response.’

According to a GSMA report from 2011 there are six types of serious mobile spam to look out for: SMS spam, premium rate fraud, phishing (SMShing), VASP abuse, mobile malware and acceptable use policy violations.

Following this move EE, O2, Vodafone, Three and the ICO will look to extend the Spam Reporting Service initiative.

Hoffman added: ‘The MNOs plan to accumulate statistically meaningful data in the coming months as public awareness of the service increases. The trials of this service indicate that the public complaint data helps operators and authorities in deterring spam and the UK MNOs are addressing something that they know is a concern to their customers.  The current objective is to increase public awareness so that more and more people report Spam using 7726. With a better understanding of nuisance messaging authorities and MNOs can develop the best counter measures. Ongoing reporting of spam issues by the general public are critical in helping to curb this issue, particularly as spam campaigns evolve over time.’

ICO head of enforcement, Steve Eckersley: ‘The real-time information about spam attacks we are now receiving from the UK operators is helping us to quickly identify breaches in the Privacy of Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR), track down perpetrators and issue monetary penalties against them.’


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