The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation

 

New weapon for anti-spam investigators


21 February 2014



Internal Affairs has stepped up its fight against mobile phone text spam by entering into a public private partnership and signing up to an international reporting service which will make it easier to track spammers and fraudsters breaching New Zealand’s anti-spam law.

The GSMA Spam Reporting Service (SRS), from messaging security software provider Cloudmark, means the Department can work more closely with New Zealand mobile operators analysing SMS text spam. The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. The Department elected to use the global service as a tool to combat SMS text spam while maintaining the free 7726 short code reporting service already in existence.

Regulatory Services General Manager, Maarten Quivooy, says the SRS will enable the Department, through its Electronic Messaging Compliance Unit, to share intelligence about spam texts.

“Mobile devices are increasingly the target for unsolicited commercial electronic messages, commonly referred to as spam and also malicious attacks, attempting to con money or obtain personal information from their owners through scams or phishing attacks,” Mr Quivooy said.

“We have been operating the 7726 short code for reporting SMS text spam for almost two years but analysing the complaints to track the origins of the spam has been limited without the advantages offered by the Cloudmark system.

“By combining the reporting we already receive, with Cloudmark’s analytics, the Department will be able to work with New Zealand telecommunications service providers as well as with other regulatory agencies and private authorities around the world so that action can be taken against spam attacks affecting New Zealand consumers. By reporting problems back to a global collection, aggregation and reporting service the Electronic Messaging Compliance Unit at Internal Affairs will be in a better position to defend consumers against falling victim to spam.”

Media contact:
Chandrika Kumaran
Senior Communications Adviser
Department of Internal Affairs
Cell: 027 702 7438
Email: chandrika.kumaran@dia.govt.nz

Further information

The GSMA Spam Reporting Service provides a worldwide clearinghouse of messaging threats and misuse which have been reported by mobile users and is operated on behalf of the GSMA by Cloudmark, Inc.

The Cloudmark GSMA Spam Reporting Service analyses SMS traffic and identifies and aggregates reports of spam and misuse submitted by complainants who have received unsolicited txt messages on their mobile devices via a short code. The Department of Internal Affairs owns and operates the SMS short code ‘7726’, which spells “SPAM” on the number pad of a phone or mobile device in New Zealand. The 7726 short code can be used to forward an unsolicited SMS text message, at no cost to the consumer, to the Department for the purpose of reporting spam. The forwarded message is then received by Internal Affairs and a responsive feedback system is used to request the originating number or short code of the SMS Spam from the complainant so that appropriate action can be taken by the Department and the operator. Enforcement action undertaken by Internal Affairs after an investigation has been conducted might include formal written warnings, civil infringement notices or pecuniary penalties under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007. The Department can also liaise with New Zealand mobile operators regarding the blocking of senders who have been reported by end users as sending unsolicited or fraudulent messages.

The GSMA Spam Reporting Service further provides Internal Affairs with correlated reports on global patterns and trends in SMS threats, originating both within and outside of New Zealand networks. The data analysis would allow operators the insight needed to address sophisticated and evolving messaging threats that could negatively impact the user experience as well as available network resources. Detailed drill downs into individual attacks can be used to measure effectiveness of fraud and phishing, giving operators the ability to identify and block attacks and plan for network and security services.

The introduction of the new service has the support of New Zealand mobile operators, Telecom New Zealand, Skinny, Vodafone New Zealand and 2degrees; it is used around the world through providers such as AT&T in the United States and government regulators in the United Kingdom and South Korea.

About the GSMA

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 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 also produces industry-leading events such as the Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com or Mobile World Live, the online portal for the mobile communications industry, at www.mobileworldlive.com