SPOILER ALERT: Cloudmark’s 2013 Global Messaging Threat Report Findings About SMS Spam


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Email to SMSWhile your email program is humming along, spammers are still hard at work trying to devise ways to send malicious messages to your customers. Mobile is now the new frontier for these elusive thieves, allowing them to be even more creative in their approach, and according to Cloudmark’s 2013 Global Messaging Threat Report, they are making good progress. It’s important to stay on top of trends with spammers in all channels, so we’ve provided some highlights of the report here:

  • Phishing tops the list. In 2013, phishing accounted for 20% of SMS spam in the U.S. with 67% of those SMS spam messages pushing financial offers. Spammers are using their tried and true methods and applying them to mobile. Therefore, it is not surprising that touting financial offers like fake lottery wins or payday loans continue to serve as top motivators for unwitting consumers. In fact, along with payday loans, bank/account phishing and adult content spam are the top spam types in the U.S. In the U.K., payday loan offers account for 43% of the spam followed by PPI compensation and debt relief.

 

CloudMark_Financial_Spam_Graph

Figure 1: 2013 Cloudmark Global Messaging Threat Report: Financial CTAs

  • Geo-targeting is a prime tactic. Certain states have higher incidences of SMS spam messages. These include specific zip codes in Florida, California, Texas, New York, Washington, New Jersey, Oregon, and here in Colorado. In fact, 10% of all SMS spam messages are sent to South Florida mobile phone owners.  This is because geo-targeting has created a relative minefield for spammers allowing them targeted insight into potential victims of their scams.  And while, zip code targeting hasn’t yet become widespread, it does have the potential to wreak havoc over the long term.
Cloudmark_Zip_Code_Targets

Figure 2: 2013 Cloudmark Global Messaging Threat Report: Zip Codes

  • The U.S. is a spammer’s haven. Another key finding is that the U.S. accounts for 1/3 of the world’s spam in part due to the fact that the U.S. has more than 1/3 of the world’s supply of IPV4 IP addresses; 1.5 billion to be exact. And that makes it cheap and attractive for spammers to start their criminal enterprises. Consequently, the U.S. also receives about ¾ of the spam.
  • The “free gift card” scam loses its legs. Offers for free gift cards that never came even after registering for various offers and giving up personal information accounted for 44% of all U.S. SMS spam in 2012 until the FTC filed complaints against 29 defendants. After that, these gift card scams plummeted to 2% of all spam in the second half of 2013.

To read the entire report, that includes information on blocked IP addresses, IPV6 traffic, and predictions for 2014, you can download the entire version of Cloudmark’s 2013 Global Messaging Threat Report here. And for more tips on how to avoid spam scams, including spam traps, read our blog post here


Carly Brantz is a veteran in the email deliverability space working to make email simple and easy for developers by regularly writing whitepapers, research briefs and blog posts about email, technology and industry trends.

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