Industry News

Phone Number Grabber Blows New Life in SMS Spammers

With e-mail based spam dying a slow death, cyber-criminals are moving to more targeted and personal communication. According to a report by security company Webroot, a new phone number harvester is being advertised these days on the web.

The tool does pretty much what an e-mail address crawler can do; scrape the web a page at a time in search for phone numbers, owner’s name and mobile carrier. Unlike e-mail addresses, mobile phones are prefixed, which allows a phone number digger to target specific prefixes in their area of interest.

Harvested phone numbers can then be aggregated with the service of an SMS gateway for sending messages, from various commercial offerings to borderline-destructive attacks exploiting USSD bugs or even for delivering malicious links to smartphone users. Since no security solution exists to check the legitimacy of a short message’s content, the success rate in the case of a SMS attack is much higher than that of spam.

If you’re a regular user, share your phone number with trustworthy people only. When publicly sharing your phone number, you run more than the risk of having unknown people call you and hang up in the wee hours. If you’re the administrator of a classifieds website, consider implementing and anti-crawl script for any phone numbers your visitors may post, just to stay on the safe side.

About the author


Bogdan Botezatu is living his second childhood at Bitdefender as senior e-threat analyst. When he is not documenting sophisticated strains of malware or writing removal tools, he teaches extreme sports such as surfing the web without protection or rodeo with wild Trojan horses. He believes that most things in life can be beat with strong heuristics and that antimalware research is like working for a secret agency: you need to stay focused at all times, but you get all the glory when you catch the bad guys.

1 Comment

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  • good morning,
    no need ultra sophisticate programs for harvesting, i’m sure you will find all your phone numbers, also all your friends phone numbers here: , or on other sites like this :))