The number of scam SMS messages hitting our mobile phones seems to have exploded over the past few years. Taking note is of course the federal government, who have today announced amendments to legislation allowing carriers to block scam SMS before they even get to you.

Announced today by Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews and Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts of Australia, Paul Fletcher, as well as Telstra CEO Andy Penn, the amendments will allow Telstra to begin blocks on scam SMS messages.

To block sca SMS, Telstra is developing a new cyber safety tool, which will automatically detect and block scam SMS messages as they traverse the Telstra network. Telsta is currently running a pilot of the capability, training their system to spot the difference between legitimate and malicious SMS – such as the Flubot SMS scam which has been an escalating problem.

Flubot has been a big driver behind the increase in SMS scams, with Telstra having already received over 11 thousand SMS scam reports this year alone, up from just 50 last year. Telstra already blocks over 13 million scam voice calls each year, so extending to SMS is a great way to further protect customers.

The pilot program to block SMS is being comprehensively tested with volunteers found through Telstra employees, as well as their family and friends to train the system. The system will be automatic, though during the training phase some manual intervention from Telstra staff will be required to review messages which are stripped of identifying information and is secured so that it can’t be used outside of this purpose says Telstra CEO Andy Penn on the Telstra Exchange blog.

Once testing is complete, and Telstra are confident in the systems ability to differentiate legitimate SMS from scams, Telstra plans to enable it on their mobile network as soon as early next year – and I personally can’t wait.