Securing the Future of SMS – By Cathal Fitzpatrick, VP Marketing and Value Propositions
2020 has been a year we will never forget – mostly for all the wrong reasons. What started as a vaguely interesting news item in January quickly became the greatest global catastrophe since the Second World War. In the midst of the crisis, we also remembered and took comfort in the simple things of life – like home cooking, time with family, and the quiet effectiveness of SMS as a communication tool. For 2020 was a year in which we relied on SMS like never before – for important health updates, for delivery notifications of all that e-shopping we did, and for receiving updates from our favourite local businesses as their opening hours and services changed through the ups and downs of various lockdowns.
Our reliance on SMS this year didn’t go unnoticed however. As waves of the pandemic spread round the globe, so too did waves of attacks by fraudsters and hackers who exploited our trust in the security of SMS to spread malware and software viruses onto our mobile devices and reaching into our bank accounts. SMS-based attacks via ‘Smishing’ became major news stories on TV and print media. Our faith in SMS is being tested – will you hesitate to click on the next URL you receive in a message? How can you be sure that’s really your bank texting you? Actually you can’t be sure. The way A2P SMS is implemented today means that anyone can fake a message from your bank. And you absolutely should hesitate before you click on anything you receive in a message. Volumes of fraudulent revenue share SMS traffic generated by Malware also rose steeply this year. Every time we audit an operator we find it, and it can account for up to 10% of message volumes delivered internationally.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. The tools are available to stop fraud and Smishing attacks so that trust in the security of SMS can be restored. Openmind is here to help our customers to do just that. 2020 showed us how much we still need SMS as a safe communication service we can rely on. The threats to the SMS service are real, but the effective combination of technology with expert management and oversight can secure the future of SMS as a critical tool for us all, and an ongoing revenue stream for Operators.