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GSMA Outlines Findings From Spam Reporting Service Pilot

LONDON Feb. 10, 2011 December 2010

Jeremy Sewell

The pilot analysed SMS traffic and identified and aggregated reports of misuse submitted by consumers to participating networks via a short code. Analysis of the pilot data indicated that spam is found across all networks, and at levels higher than originally anticipated. It also showed that addressing this would help improve the security and stability of networks and help lessen unwanted traffic on networks which currently clogs and wastes valuable bandwidth.

Hugh McCartney

Attackers are using sophisticated message modification techniques and transmitting low volumes of messages from each sending number to avoid detection over a long period of time. Their methods vary across different regions, making global collaboration even more critical to combating this issue.  Further findings show that most spam originates on-network, followed by peer networks and then through internet services, but each mobile network operator (MNO) in the pilot was able to identify the source of the spam and take immediate action.

The GSMA SRS will provide data-driven analysis which will help operators gain greater visibility into their networks and the attack trends affecting them.  MNOs can now understand the nature and methods of attack on the network, and quantify the volume and impact of attacks to develop more efficient and encompassing security strategies. The GSMA SRS will also enable operators to share attack information with their peers within the MNO community, helping build a collaborative defense against attackers.  The GSMA SRS enables operators to be even more proactive in strengthening their internal security practices to address mobile spam, maintaining the integrity and value of mobile messaging for consumers who are more and more frequently using mobile to interact with financial, health, and legitimate advertising services.  

GSMA Spam Reporting Service Highlights

Although nearly one-tenth of spam attacks identified were adult in content, the majority of attacks were for financial gain, with 70% of reports of spam being for fraudulent financial services rather than the traditional advertising scenarios found in email spam. Further, attacks can be split into three categories:

  • Phishing attempts
  • Social engineering scams
  • Premium rate fraud

Asia Europe North America

GSMA Spam Reporting Service Methodology

The GSMA SRS pilot was carried out on behalf of the GSMA by Cloudmark, Inc., who is now a formal partner providing the service on behalf of the GSMA. The short code ‘7726’, which spells "SPAM" on  most phones, was used where local national numbering plans permit, in conjunction with an additional code ‘33700’, a universally recognised simple code, to encourage consumers to report instances of SMS spam. With this reporting mechanism, consumers were able to direct alleged spam to a responsive feedback system, which acknowledged the report and informed service providers so that appropriate action can be taken. This action can include investigations, warnings and blocking of senders who have been repeatedly reported by end users as sending unsolicited or fraudulent messages.  

GSMA Spam Reporting Service Results Presentation


Hall 7, Seminar Theatre


14th Feb



15th Feb

1630-1800 [email protected]

About the GSMA

The GSMA represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry. Spanning 219 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations. The GSMA is focused on innovating, incubating and creating new opportunities for its membership, all with the end goal of driving the growth of the mobile communications industry.

Additional Quotes

"The mobile community has an increasingly critical role to play in the fight against SMS Spam. Mobile spam reporting helps network operators detect attacks quickly, empowers our subscribers, and allows us to maintain the best mobile experience for our customers."

Scott McElroy

"Participation in the GSMA project has given KISA a good opportunity to be actively involved in the discussions for international cooperation, such as standards formation regarding the spam reporting method. The KISA will secure professional capabilities and aims to be a world leading organization in the area of spam response in the future."

Rhee Myung , KISA

"We are pleased with the pilot results of the GSMA Spam Reporting Service. The collaboration of operators in different regions around the world compliments the success of Korea’s national mobile spam reporting service. We firmly believe that SMS messaging spam is a global issue and should be addressed collaboratively with mobile operators and mobile consumers working together in defense."

Juncheol Lee , Vice President, KT

"The GSMA SRS has provided valuable insight into the nature and method of attacks on the network. As attackers continue to use more sophisticated techniques and low volumes of messages to avoid detection, we can leverage the data and knowledge gained from the GSMA SRS to address the threats with the most effective and efficient security strategy."

Jean-Yves Poichotte, Group Information Security and Fraud Director, SFR


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