Have you received a lot of spam on Signal lately? Don’t worry, it’s not alone. Online spammers are among the most persistent troublemakers on the Internet and they have their sights set on a new target.
Where does Signal Spam come from?
Signal uses your real mobile number to identify you. If you want to contact another user on Signal, you can look them up by phone number. On Signal, there is no separate identifier, such as a username or handle, that you would associate with a platform such as Twitter or Snapchat.
This means that Signal is open to the same wrongs you are likely already exposed to through text messages sent to your mobile number. If your phone number has been the target of regular SMS spammers in the past, it is probably already known to spammers who buy, sell and distribute databases of legitimate numbers for spamming purposes. (That data breach on Facebook is just one way your phone number may have been exposed.)
Many of these users ended up on Signal because of the way the instant messenger takes a privacy-focused approach to communication. With a massive influx of users, Signal became a much more viable target for spammers and scammers alike.
This was made so much easier by the way Signal identifies its users: with plain old phone numbers.
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What You Should Know About Signal Spam
When you receive a spam message on Signal, it appears to be a normal notification, as if it came from a known contact or friend. But these unsolicited messages are messages to request, not standard messages.
This is a good thing as it requires you to be aware of the number in order to communicate with the message. Most spammers and scammers want you to click on a link. These links could contain malware, point to tech support scams, use fake websites in an attempt to phishing your password, or worse.
Fortunately, you can’t click a link in a Signal message request until you’ve accepted the message request. This is an important precaution as it means that most users are not at risk as most users are simply not engaged with the message.
Spam will appear in your Signal conversation list as a message request. Tap the request and you can block, delete or accept the request. If you accept the request, your name and photo will be displayed and you can click links in the message.
The safest thing to do is to block the number completely using the Block button. Most spammers will change numbers on a regular basis, but by blocking these numbers as soon as they come in, you can stop getting requests from the same source. You can also swipe left on the conversation list to delete the conversation without viewing it.
You don’t have to worry about blocking legitimate correspondence through Signal. Companies such as Amazon and Facebook do not send you important information via a third-party messaging app. If you receive a message that you have been randomly selected to win something, ignore it. If you have been told that a social media account must be verified, check it yourself using the official app or website.
One option: delete your Signal account
The easiest way to avoid spam on this service is to delete your Signal account. If you depend on the service, this solution is far from ideal. But if you’re a casual user who signed up out of curiosity, this is an easy fix.
You can delete your Signal account by tapping your user icon in the app, followed by Account, then Delete account. As long as you have the same mobile number, you can sign in again and use the service.
The only other option is the same route you would take to combat nuisance from callers and SMS spammers: change your mobile number. If you choose this route, be careful who you give your number to so that you don’t end up in a spammer’s database again in the future.
Unfortunately, it only seems like a matter of time before most songs are compromised in this way. Security breaches often expose mobile numbers, even if you are careful and don’t provide your information to marketing companies.
In all likelihood, the spam will eventually return, be it through Signal, SMS, or even voice calls. Changing your number can be more hassle than it’s worth unless you receive an excruciating amount of unsolicited messages.
RELATED: How to delete your Signal account
Avoid SMS spam on signal
On Android – but not iPhone – Signal can also function as your default text messaging app. If so, some of the spam you see in Signal on Android could be normal SMS spam that would otherwise be delivered to a separate text messaging app. To stop this, consider turning off SMS integration in Signal for Android.
RELATED: Make signal as your default text messaging app on Android
Signal spam is a difficult problem to solve
Aside from not using Signal or changing your mobile number regularly, you won’t find a clear solution for dealing with Signal spam. Signal is probably already trying to address the problem, but the platform’s unique approach to security and privacy makes that difficult.
All signal communication is end-to-end encrypted, which means that only the receiver of a signal message can read it. While the message is being sent, it cannot be read by Signal or your ISP. If the data were intercepted, it would be of no use to anyone without the decryption key.
Since Signal cannot scan your messages for links, identifying spam can be tricky. Many Signal users on Reddit have requested that the service implement a feature that blocks all communications from numbers not in your contact list, in addition to a “Report Spam” feature that helps identify problem numbers.
Whether Signal can get over the spam problem remains to be seen, but for now, remember to only block suspicious incoming message requests, never click on links in emails, and monitor your mobile number whenever possible.
Signal is safe and private and can even be used anonymously, but make sure you know how to make your Signal chats as safe as possible.