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SMS not secure

Gartner warns against sending confidential text messages

Research firm Gartner today warned mobile phone users not to use SMS text messages for confidential communications due to severe security risks.

Earlier this month, two employees of mobile phone operator MMO2 were dismissed after sending copies of customers' private SMSs to their friends.

"Most users do not realise how easy [SMS] may be to intercept," said Nick Jones, analyst at Gartner.

Although it's a pretty complex procedure for external sources to hack text messages, the contents of an SMS are known to the network operator's system and therefore to its personnel.

MMO2 said that only a small number of employees had access to customer SMS data. The company monitors its SMS procedure for possible breaches of trust.

The company said this was "an isolated incident" and that people should not be put off sending text messages for this reason, but nonetheless the incident does highlight the possible security risks involved with SMS messaging.

Gartner also slammed the idea of voting via SMS due to the security problems, as again staff would have access to the 'confidential' voting process. Pilot schemes are set to run throughout the country for the next local elections.


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