200 million cellphone users hit by SMS spam tidalwave in China

Sophos Press Release

China Mobile apologizes for unsolicited commercial text messages

Over 200 million mobile phones were sent SMS spam in the incident
Over 200 million mobile phones were sent SMS spam in the incident.

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have warned of the rising nuisance of spam sent to mobile phones as China Mobile issues an apology after nearly half of China's cellphone users were sent unwanted junk text messages this week.

According to media reports, China Mobile blamed management loopholes that allowed seven online advertising firms, reportedly including NASDAQ-listed Focus Media, to send unsolicited SMS messages yesterday to over 200 million users.

"This was an SMS spam tidalwave. When the mobile phones of 200 million people in China all bleeped at once to tell them they had a new SMS spam, the authorities had to sit up and listen," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Misguided companies may be tempted to exploit modern technology in their attempt to get marketing messages in front of their potential audience, but spamming cellphones is simply not acceptable. China would be wise to follow other countries around the world and clarify the rules regarding spam SMS messages."

China is believed to have some 555 million cellphone subscribers, and personal information is frequently traded between different companies who wish to target potential customers.

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