We’ve heard a lot about Android security flaws this year but what happens when Android users voluntarily allow third parties to turn their smartphones into text-messaging spambots? BBC News directs our attention to a new breed of Android apps that promise users cash in exchange for letting spammers take advantage of their unlimited texting plans to send out messages to mobile phones around the world.
Adaptive Mobile researcher Cahal McDaid tells BBC News that the new apps tap into “a huge market in sending text messages as cheaply as possible around the world.” McDaid also says that he and his team have seen smartphones that have downloaded one of the apps send out “thousands” of text messages.
Just because you can make money from letting spammers send out texts with your phone doesn’t mean that you should actually do it, however. For one thing, carriers are not happy with the idea that their unlimited text plans are being used to potentially annoy customers. McDaid warns that users who install text-spamming Android apps risk having their numbers blocked by carriers if they’re found to be sending out an inordinately large number of text messages.
Even worse, if carriers find that you’ve violated their terms of service by downloading a text-spam app, they could fine you a significant sum of money.
“If your operator decides to bill you their ‘out of bundle’ or overage rate for violating their terms you could be billed hundreds of pounds for those messages,” Lookout mobile security analyst Marc Rogers tells BBC News. “Aside from the potential issues with your operator, you are allowing people to send messages from your mobile number, without having any control or visibility of what those messages are,” he said. “But you may have to face the consequences.”