Text Message Spam: the Other White Meat

If you're a human, and you own a cellular handset, you've probably encountered text message spam. Text messaging is enabled on all plans by default, and virtually every provider runs an email to SMS gateway. So, in my case, with T-mobile, my phone can receive email at [my phone number]@tmomail.net. Spammers have to be salivating over this: compared to a standard dictionary attack on an email server (sending mail to every possible permutation of common names at a domain) this is much simpler. Call it a phone-book attack. A spammer can simply sequence through a given set of numbers in a known area code, or, to throw off reactive filters, a random set of numbers in an area code.

Unlike email, though, SMS messages generally cost the user of the handset, whether it's a fixed per-message charge, or a part of a monthly text message package. This, combined with the audible alert that comes with a handset text message, make this a particularly infuriating problem.

If you have T-Mobile, though, you're in luck. Just register your phone on their website to create a profile, if you haven't already. Once you're logged in, choose 'Send a text message' from the 'My Services' menu pull-down. On the right, you should see a link for 'Change my phone e-mail address'. Click that, then enter something unique and memorable as your new email address. Any further emails sent to the SMS gateway will have to use this address to reach your phone.

We'll see if this solves the problem for me, but it looks promising.

No comments: