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News

Spam anniversary sees increase in unwanted mobile spam

AdaptiveMobile : 01 May, 2008  (Technical Article)
Rise in mobile spam creates demand for software to protect mobile users from unwanted e-mail and phishing attacks.
Spam is celebrating its 30th birthday on 3rd May. This is the day when, in 1978, 393 Arpanet employees received the first ever spam email in history from the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). A lot has changed since then, and instead of a handful academics, today 1.3 billion people have access to the Internet and are thus unwilling recipients of spam. Still, while it is a nuisance, PC spam is fairly easy to control with spam filters and the daily tradition of deleting half our Inboxes. Unfortunately, mobile spam is of a different calibre altogether.

As Lorcan Burke, CEO of mobile security specialist AdaptiveMobile asserts:

'We are now in the same situation with mobile spam as we were with PCs ten years ago. While mobile spam has thus far not received much attention, two thirds of UK mobile users have been affected and in places like China, the average mobile user receives six to ten spam messages per day. The difference is that a mobile is a very personal device, and users are still very trusting when receiving messages and phone calls, given that numbers are not publicly listed and every user believes he has control over who has got his number.'

While the mobile spam problem could seem relatively small compared to that of PC spam, the numbers tell a different story. Mobile phones are quickly outgrowing PCs in number and Gartner forecasts that there will be four billion mobiles compared to 1.3 billion PCs by 2010. According to research from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2007, more than 80 per cent of phone users worldwide have received spam on their mobile phone. And in the UK alone, two thirds of mobile users have been victims of mobile spam and phishing attacks according to a YouGov report (March 2008).

Lorcan believes that 'The industry should do everything possible to protect users from spam, and to prevent it escalating in the same way as its PC equivalent. Users are concerned about mobile security and the responsibility lies with the mobile operators to protect their customers as they have the capability to monitor and control data traffic on their network'.
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