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SPIM (Spam Instant Messaging)

Unwanted messages distributed through instant messaging, such as private chats or even SMS, making them harder to filter and block, are known as "SPIM." The key difference between SPIM and email spam is the communication channel, as spam is sent via email.

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Differences between SPAM and SPIM

When you receive unwanted messages on your mobile device from unknown people, whether through SMS, WhatsApp, Telegram, or social media chat, you are experiencing a SPIM attack. These senders usually do not personalize their names and display only an unknown number because they send messages in a mass and automated manner.

They are also easy to identify because they contain unsolicited information, poorly written text, and clearly suspicious links, much like email spam, although distributed through a different channel and without a dedicated folder for unwanted communications. Therefore, we can say that the equivalent of email spam in instant messaging is SPIM.

Furthermore, there is a variant that also has references to email: "smishing" is similar to "phishing," where the attacker sends an SMS or chat message pretending to be a potentially known sender in order to collect personal information such as passwords or bank account details, or to trick the recipient into downloading malicious software on their device.

How to avoid SPIM

If SPIM arrives directly on your mobile device, it may be because your number is on a list that has been marketed without permission, or because it has been leaked due to a security issue with a service you use. It can also happen due to simple mathematics, as some systems use random numbers. The best approach is to control who you give your number to and under what circumstances to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

In the case of SPIM arriving through chats, the sender may not have your number but may have your username on the social network through which they are targeting you. To prevent this, you can configure each profile to only receive messages from contacts on your list.

When you receive SPIM, your phone allows you to block or add the sender to a blacklist so that you don't receive more messages from them. Deleting them is not enough because they may continue to insist, hoping the user will fall into the trap and not only read the message but also click on any suspicious links. It's best to avoid this whenever you don't know the sender or when the link appears suspicious: it's better to ask if in doubt.