The changing economics of mobile messaging could be close to sparking a new rise in the volume of spam received on phones, Cloudmark has said.

The company put forward this view as it officially launched a new carrier-level system, MobileAuthority, designed to filter rogue messages at system level, and which can be used by networks to identify culprits and malicious content and have it blocked. The system can also block from partner networks.

While accepting that mobile spam was still a small issue in the Europe compared with Asia, where zero-cost messaging and disinterested networks encouraged spammers to bombard systems, Cloudmark offered its own research carried out in the UK which showed that two thirds of users had experienced some rogue messages.

However, the increased use of fixed tariffs and the fall in the cost of sending SMS messages could cause mobile spam, or ‘spim', to take off here too.

"The continued rapid growth of mobile messaging has created an environment that is ripe for abuse by attackers, and the situation will undoubtedly worsen for both operators and their customers if steps are not taken to address messaging security," said Michael Osterman of Osterman Research, quoted by Cloudmark in its official release.

"There is a growing need for solutions that will not only protect customers from messaging threats, but also relieve the cost and infrastructure burden that mobile spam volume is placing on operator networks," said Osterman.

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Speaking to Techworld, Cloudmark's Neil Cook, head of technology services for EMEA, rejected the view that it might be better to put anti-spam technology on the mobile device.

"There have been anti-virus products on PCs for 25 years and they don't stop viruses," he pointed out. The network layer was the only place that serous abuse could be stopped quickly.

If spim does turn into the problem it has been for some years with PC messaging, a critical aspect could turn out not just to be the blocking of unwanted messages, but the avoidance of false positives, admitted Cook.

Cloudmark's MobileAuthority used advanced fingerprinting algorithms to avoid this, he claimed, by identifying rogue messages in real time.

MobileAuthority has been in use for some time with unnamed customers, but was now being promoted to the whole industry Cooke said.