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Machine Learning Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Rajeev Kozhikkattuthodi, Yeshim Deniz

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National Study Indicates Mobile Spam Is Impacting the Vast Majority of U.S. Adults

“Mobile spam” has become prevalent, with the majority of U.S. adults who text reporting that they have received an unsolicited text message, according to a survey conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Cloudmark among 2,475 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, of whom 1,801 were identified as texters. Many U.S. adults who text are also not aware of the most appropriate response to unsolicited messages.

The survey determined awareness of, interaction with and perceptions of “text message spam.” An infographic summarizing the study’s findings is also available.

Findings from the survey include:

  • Most U.S. adults (72 percent) use their mobile phone to send and receive text messages
  • 72 percent of have received an unsolicited texted message
  • 60 percent of those who send/receive texts received “mobile spam” within the last twelve months
  • 13 percent of U.S. adults who received an unsolicited text message clicked on a link in the message
  • 9 percent of U.S. adults who received an unsolicited text message called a number provided in the message

Additional Key Findings:

Younger Adults Are More Vulnerable to Spam

The likelihood of engaging in risky behavior in response to unsolicited text messages dramatically increases among younger people. Of those who received unsolicited text messages, 20 percent between the ages of 18-34 have clicked on a link in an unsolicited text message, compared with 7 percent of those 55 and over. Additionally, 16 percent of those ages 18-34 have called a number in an unsolicited text message versus 3 percent of those ages 55 and over.

Uncertainty Surrounds Proper Procedures for Reporting Mobile Spam

A majority of U.S. adults who send/receive texts – 64 percent – said it was important or very important that their carrier have a mechanism in place to report mobile spam. However, 72 percent reported that they were unsure if their carrier had such a process in place.

Furthermore, 41 percent of mobile users who send/receive texts reported they would text “Stop” in response to an unsolicited text message. However, by acknowledging spam messages, these individuals may unwittingly validate their phone number for malicious senders, opening themselves up for additional spam messages.

Reporting Service Helps Consumers Combat Spam

One avenue for reporting text message spam is the GSMA Spam Reporting Service. Consumers can submit suspicious texts to this service by forwarding the message to “7726” (S-P-A-M) for analysis. Powered by Cloudmark, the service provides participating carriers with comprehensive reports that include detailed information on spam content, senders and reporters, which carriers can utilize to block numbers, helping to reduce further spam. Some of the largest carriers in North America, including AT&T, Bell Mobility, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, offer the service to their customers.

“With the rising popularity of text messaging, U.S. consumers of all ages are susceptible to receiving unwanted text messages, leaving them personally vulnerable to future security threats. Spammers are constantly searching for new ways to catch consumers off guard,” said Neil Cook, CTO, Cloudmark. “There is a tremendous opportunity to help consumers learn how to effectively combat spam and utilize the resources their mobile providers offer. Cloudmark is committed to helping carriers and mobile providers to ensure the security of their services, protecting users from mobile security threats and enhancing the overall user experience.”

To view an infographic that highlights key findings from the U.S. survey, please visit: http://www.cloudmark.com/releases/docs/mobile_spam_US_ver_3.jpg.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Cloudmark from Sept 25-27, 2012 among 2,475 adults ages 18 and older (among whom 1,801 use a mobile phone to send/receive text messages) via its QuickQuery product. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. This data was weighted to reflect the composition of the general adult population.

For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Dave Bowker or Anne Lundregan of Schwartz MSL at [email protected] or 781-684-0770.

About Cloudmark

Cloudmark protects more than 2 billion global subscribers daily from an explosion in messaging abuses across more operator networks than anyone else. Only Cloudmark defends the world’s largest Mobile, Fixed and Social Networks, including AT&T, Comcast, MySpace, NTT, Swisscom and Time Warner Cable, with scalable and accurate protection against the widest range of existing and emerging messaging threats.

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