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Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Updated Several people have contacted The Reg angry at a spam voicemail that appeared in their Orange inboxes. The message comprised a woman saying "Thinking of upgrading your mobile phone?", before attempting to sell the services of www.somuchcheaper.com.

None of them were amused. As one said: "I'm the sort of bloke that ticks boxes not to be 'alerted of special offers' blah blah. You know what I mean."

It is clear the site has got hold of customers' details, although it remains unclear how. Somuchcheaper is a very cheaply put together service run by one man, Simon Abraham, who offers to arrange people's phone needs through a Hotmail address. We tracked him down but he is not answering his mobile and has yet to return our calls.

We contacted Orange, which categorically denied any selling of user details. "We never never ever ever ever give details of customer accounts," said a spokesman. He suggested that the information may have been bought through the dealer channel. Orange said it will investigate any customer complaints.

Another possible connection is that all those that received the voice spam have accounts with iobox. We've contacted iobox but it has yet to get back to us. We'll keep you informed.

While we are all faced with spam at some point, voicemail spam is particularly annoying. And since Orange doesn't give a free voicemail service, it was also costing those that received it to listen to it. If you would like to know more about somuchcheaper, you can visit the site here.

Update: We've been contacted by a number of readers have suffered from the spam voicemail and others that have had them in the past. Apparently, the iobox connection was simply coincidence as others who have never used have received the same spam from somuchcheaper. The problem lies in Orange's Answerphone Group Messaging which enables someone to record a voicemail and then forward it to anyone else on an Orange account by simply tapping in the number.

It is theoretically possible to fire these out blind with a bit of clever programming but we remain unsure that the man behind the site would have the technical know-how to do this and so are trying to find out where he may have got hold of a list of Orange numbers. One question remaining is why Orange hasn't bit some controls on this messaging system - would you ever really need to send a voicemail to more than five people at a time? We'll keep at it until we get an answer. ®

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