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Text spamming a big issue for companies

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Some people see spamming as yesterday's big security issue. But as smartphones proliferate, spammers are finding ways to update their criminal activity.

That activity was highlighted recently when the FTC announced that it had charged various companies with criminal smartphone text spamming. The spam made bogus promises of gifts and directed people to Web sites that sought PII, such as social security numbers and credit card numbers.

These alleged criminals were preying on the fact that cell phones communications, for whatever reason, inspire more trust in users, to their detriment in some cases. While this is a front-burner consumer issue, there are big implications for businesses as well. For companies, these indictments provide a good reason to review security policies, especially as the BYOD movement heats up.

CSO magazine notes that, "Spam text messages pose a significant threat to businesses because they are sent directly to mobile workers, bypassing filters and firewalls. While the operations busted by the FTC focused on gathering personal information, the links could have easily pointed to a site that downloaded malware," adding that, "Because many businesses have yet to deploy mobile security technology, the field of potential victims is still fairly open."

One big issue here is the extent to which criminal software vendors, so to speak, will popularize easy-to-use spam kits that would-be criminals can easily deploy.

There is precedent of for this sort of commercialization. Illicit vendors already market a wide array of inexpensive, readily available software used for hacking in online settings. There's no reason to think that they will not tap the opportunity to diversify their offerings. The bottom line for IT security folks is that they need to step up their mobile security game when it comes to personal devices. This includes technology as well as workforce education.

The stakes are ratcheting up by the day.

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