The problems with SMS

Summary:Nowadays it's easy to develop SMS applications for your enterprise. For example, in my company, we use two-way SMS to search for a staff member by name and to get his/her phone number.

Nowadays it's easy to develop SMS applications for your enterprise. For example, in my company, we use two-way SMS to search for a staff member by name and to get his/her phone number. What about you?

If you're thinking of developing an SMS application, or you are already run one, consider these issues:

  • SMS commands can be hard to remember: Let's say I can send an SMS "name john smith" to find a person named John Smith. I want to narrow the location to Singapore, so I can send the SMS "name john smith location singapore". And if I'm looking for John who works in the Marketing Department: "name john smith location singapore dept marketing". You can imagine this getting complicated--how do I search by city instead of country? Can I spell "dept" as "department"? Eventually the SMS application becomes a complicated language that nobody can remember.

  • SMS messages are not secret: Your SMS messages are exposed to the mobile operator. Some mobile operators may record your SMS messages for auditing purposes. So never transmit passwords, PINs and other secure information over SMS.

  • SMS senders can be spoofed: Some SMS tools and aggregators allow you to alter the sender information for an outgoing SMS, to impersonate another mobile user. It's possible for a malicious person to perform fraudulent SMS transactions by spoofing another person's mobile number.

  • SMS messages may be delayed: Mobile operators don't guarantee timely delivery of SMS messages. You may miss important SMS alerts if the SMS delivery is delayed. SMS messages may also be delivered out of sequence, and your application may misinterpret your SMS commands (with very bad consequences).

  • SMS messages are not reliable: Mobile operators don't guarantee that your SMS messages are delivered at all. It's also possble for your SMS messages to be delivered twice. Let's say you're using SMS to make payment--you may be charged twice because of the duplicate messages.

    If you think you may be affected by these issues, consider implementing your application using another mobile technology like WAP or J2ME.

    Do you have horror stories about your SMS applications? Please share them with our M Files readers!

Topics: Mobility

About

Lee Lup Yuen is passionate about mobile phones and PDAs, as he is constantly buying new gadgets and programming them in J2ME, .NET, Symbian and AppForge. He has developed commercial applications with mobile technologies like SMS, MMS, WAP, 3G video streaming and location-based services.

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