BBC Watchdog raises unfounded scares over Mobile spoofing

Topic: Esendex news

Last night’s BBC Watchdog featured a story on how consumers could be tricked into giving away their bank details by fraudsters sending SMS messages which appeared to come from their bank.  But we believe that the story isn’t particularly reflective of the real-world use of SMS.
The technology clearly exists: the featured “Security experts” sent an MMS but Esendex’s own Business SMS service allows the option to set the message ID – the SMS “originator” can be set to any combination of 11 alphanumeric characters including your company’s name or a mobile number.
However, this feature is invaluable for many of our Business SMS customers:

  • Organisations confirming an appointment or delivery want to ensure that their message is clearly identified and branded
  • Estate agents set the message to that of the person handling the enquiry when they send out a property alert
  • Marketing customers use the feature to ensure that the message gets maximum “oomph”

The legitimate value to businesses of this functionality far outweighs the somewhat spurious risk of phishing: none of the quizzed networks was aware of SMS being used in this way.
The article also failed to highlight that whilst email is essentially free, there is a cost to sending an SMS: the maths of phishing just don’t stack up when this is factored in.
Furthermore, reputable SMS suppliers such as Esendex just wouldn’t make their service available to scammers in this way.
Whilst there’s no room for complacency, the story really does seem a little overblown.