SMS Usage Statistics in 2019. Market Predictions for 2020-2023 and Beyond

It was December 3, 1992. That’s the date that Neil Papworth sent the world’s first text message. More than 26 years later, SMS has grown into a powerful marketing and communication tool.

Today, trillions of SMS text messages connect billions of people and benefits millions of businesses and marketers immensely. SMS helps businesses generate outsized positive ROI.

In this article, we’ll review the most recent SMS usage statistics. Be warned! These stats might compel you to take your SMS marketing seriously.

Global SMS and Usage Statistics


Image Credit: GSMA Intelligence

The number of mobile users is increasing and will continue to soar. In a GSMA report, mobile users will go from five billion users in 2019 to 5.7 billion in 2020. This growth will increase market penetration of mobile phones from 67 percent to 72 percent in that period. Hence, an increase in the use of SMS.

The GSMA statistics support Statista’s predictions that smartphone users will grow from 3.2 billion to 3.8 billion from 2019 to 2021. Another Statista report posits the number of mobile subscribers globally will reach 7.33 billion in 2023.


Screenshot from Statista

The growing number of mobile devices means SMS remains a viable communication platform.

In America, over 272 million people own smartphones. And they collectively check their phones tens of billions of times every day; an average person picks up their phone 58 times a day.

Let us look at some of the global SMS and usage statistics.

  •  In 2024, the global application to person (A2P) SMS API market will reach $245.9 million based on a CAGR of 4.1 percent from 2017 to 2024. However, the A2P SMS market will grow at a CAGR of 4.2 to reach a valuation of $86.53 billion in 2025.
  • The A2P SMS market is stronger in the USA, growing at 6.2 percent to reach a valuation of $31.7 billion in 2022.
  • Phone users read over 90 percent of text messages within three minutes of receipt.

SMS Marketing Statistics for Businesses


Screenshot from Ericsson

According to Ericsson, the number of mobile subscriptions in 2020 will exceed eight billion. Smartphones and feature phones will contribute to 73 percent and 23.4 percent of that growth, respectively.

Let’s explore the conversion and response rates of SMS.


Screenshot from Finances Online

  • Retailers that use promotional SMS for their CRM initiatives enjoy a 23.3 percent conversion rate.
  • Compared to calls, 64 percent of customers prefer using two-way text messages when interacting with customer service. Most of these customers are younger people and they cite efficiency and convenience as their top reasons for preferring text messages.
  • About 75 percent of customers enjoy receiving special offers by text message. Messages sent this way convert at 9.18 percent, which is several times higher than the 0.9 percent and 1.91 percent of Facebook and Google Ads, respectively.


Image Created by Nicholas Godwin for SMSEagle.eu

  • The fastest growing marketing channel is customers opting in to receive business text messaging services. In 2016, 37.2 million customers used this channel,  in 2020 48.7 million customers in the US are choosing the channel.
  • In 2019, businesses spent $165.7 billion on mobile ads. In that year, 90 percent of US consumers indicated that they prefer to receive text ads.
  • In 2019, the conversion rate of SMS campaigns stand at 45 percent.


Screenshot from Finances Online

  • Eighty-five percent of consumers and buyers want to go beyond receiving just information from businesses, they want to hold text conversions with these businesses.
  • SMS open rate stands at 98 percent because receivers must read them before they delete them. Whereas, open rates for Facebook posts, email messages, and Tweets stand at 12 percent, 20 percent, and 29 percent, respectively.
  • HubSpot reports that the average click through rate of URLs in text messages is 19 percent, meanwhile, email stands at 4.2 percent.

Marketing SMS Usage Statistics


Screenshot from GlobalWebIndex

  • According to a 2019 Social Flagship report by GlobalWebIndex, 48 percent of internet users share content with their peers through text messages. Only 37 percent of users share information via email.


Screenshot from eMarketer

  • The US mobile messaging app usage, including SMS app usage, will go from 161.6 million users in 2020 to hit 171.3 million users in 2022. This growth will go from 56.1 percent of the US population to 58.1 percent of US users.
  • SMS Comparison further reveals that SMS has a higher clickthrough rate (CTR) when compared to other marketing like Facebook and Google AdWords. The Click-through rate for SMS stands at 9.18 percent, while Facebook and Google AdWords have a CTR of 0.90 percent and 1.91 percent, respectively.


Screenshot from OpenMarket

Sixty-two percent of buyers are not getting SMS notifications from retailers. In Travel and Hospitality, 75 percent of travellers and vacationers are not receiving any SMS communication from train operators, hotels, and airlines.

  • According to SMS Comparison, nine out of ten customers will prefer to communicate with companies via text message. That stat applies to one-way communication by alerts, reminders, and notifications, or two-way communications.


Screenshot from Finances Online

  • Mobile marketing, including SMS marketing, is driving more purchases for businesses in 2020. Businesses in these three industries are seeing the most increase in sales due to mobile marketing: 54 percent of restaurants, 40 percent of apparels and beauty, and 36 percent of electronics.
  • According to Rebrandly, using branded links on your SMS campaigns will increase clickthrough rate by 39 percent and boost brand visibility.
  • The top four reasons why consumers pay attention to a marketing message in their mobile phone are:  brand familiarly at 54 percent, content that’s interesting and creative at 52 percent, excellent timing at 41 percent, and promotional offers such as coupons at 41 percent.


Screenshot from Finances Online

  • By end-of-year 2019 the mobile phone sales market would witness a 19 percent drop because of longer phone replacement cycles.


Screenshot from Finances Online

  • Researchers expect to see 49 million consumers opting to receive marketing messages from brands in 2020. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, Gartner says that SMS will become vital for businesses that want to keep touch with their audiences and customers at this time.

SMS Statistics from the Financial Service Industry

Mobile SMS banking has become a dominant trend

  • According to the Business Insider Intelligence Mobile Banking Competitive Edge study by Business Insider,  89 percent of customers say they utilize mobile banking services.
  • According to Coherent Marketing Insights, the transactional SMS market share will reach 47.4 percent by 2027.

What Does the Future Hold for SMS and SMS Marketing?

The SMS industry will continue to witness an upward swing. Future projections have shown that recent advancements in technology will shape consumers’ behavior and how businesses utilize SMS.


Screenshot from Juniper Research

Let’s take a look at some of the predictions.

  • According to the Coherent Marketing Insights, the global bulk SMS marketing industry will hit a CAGR of 7.4 percent between 2019-2027.
  • Juniper Research estimated that the number of business text messages in 2020 would reach 3.5 trillion messages from the 2.5 trillion messages in 2019.


Screenshot from Juniper Research

  • Given the high engagement rates of SMS marketing and the intelligent automation capabilities of chatbots, experts expect that SMS chatbots will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.


Screenshot from OpenMarket

  • From 2019 to 2027 the global market for bulk SMS marketing service will grow at a CAGR of 7.2 percent.

Final Words

From the usage statistics we have outlined here, it’s clear that the future of SMS is promising.

SMS remains the most underutilized, yet most engaging marketing and communication channel. And it’ll continue to witness adoption across multiple industries including financial services, healthcare, hospitality, transportation, and more.

With a massive open rate of 98 percent, SMS has the potential to deliver significant value for businesses. As a marketer, SMS communications means your customers will most likely read your message.

Furthermore, SMS marketing can help businesses boost customer reach. They can improve customer engagement and increase revenues. Businesses that engage in SMS marketing will continue to enjoy these enormous benefits if they employ the right strategies.

The beautiful thing about SMS is that it is cost-effective and can form an essential part of your integrated marketing strategy. You should go ahead and invest in SMS. I’m sure you will be glad you did.

14 Ways Savvy Brands Use SMS to Earn More Money, Trust, and Referrals

14 Ways Savvy Brands Use SMS to Earn More Money, Trust, and Referrals

SMS has more reach than other messaging channels because you don’t need a smartphone and an internet connection to access a text message.

But what gives SMS marketing its power is the engagement it generates.

While email has a 20 to 30 percent open rate, SMS has a 98 percent open-rate. And 90 percent of recipients read their text messages within three seconds of receiving them.

More so, SMS has a reply rate as high as 45 percent, and an average person responds to an SMS within 90 seconds.

What’s more?

SMS marketing generates outsized ROI. For example, a British motor racing circuit earned a 680 percent return on their SMS marketing efforts.

How can you benefit from all these goodies?

Let’s explore how you can leverage SMS to boost your profits, earn buyers’ trust, and gain referrals.

Table of Contents: 14 Ways Savvy Brands Use SMS to Earn More Money, Trust, and Referrals

You may skip to any part of this content by clicking any of the items on the list.

    1. Build a Loyalty Program by Leveraging SMS
    2. Build Referrals from Loyal Buyers
    3. Boost Your Subscriber Base by Targeting In-Store Shoppers
    4. Track and Measure Your Customer Engagement Levels
    5. Use SMS for Call to Action
    6. Manage Your Product Recalls and Returns
    7. Use SMS to Boost Your Email Open-Rate
    8. Offer Discounts and Build Top-of-the-Mind Awareness
    9. Boost Your Revenues By Getting Instant Buyer-Feedback
    10. Abandoned Cart Notification
    11. Delivery Alert and Customer Service
    12. Product Launch, New Stock, and Product Updates
    13. Manager Your Customer Appointments
    14. Distribute Your Coupon to More People

1. Build a Loyalty Program by Leveraging SMS

More businesses are favoring customer retention over acquisition. Specifically, businesses favoring customer retention over acquisition moved from 70 percent to 80 percent in one year.

One study showed that 82 percent of shoppers choose businesses that have loyalty programs over others. And loyalty programs guarantee customer retention.

Fortunately, raising your customer retention rate by five percent is a big deal. It could earn your business up to 125 percent more profit.


Image Credit: TechnologyAdvice

So it only makes sense for businesses to gravitate towards customer loyalty strategies. But some businesses are better at using potent tactics than others.

Savvy brands understand the power of SMS, and they’re using it to drive their customer loyalty growth at the speed of thought.


Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

When shoppers buy from them, they seize that moment. These brands would send buyers an SMS invite to join their loyalty programs in exchange for intelligently structured benefits.

2. Build Referrals from Loyal Buyers

Loyal customers are happy to introduce you to new customers, or they’re willing to introduce new people to your business.

Your customers’ willingness to introduce their friends to your business is a Net Promoter Score (NPS) booster.

If the term is new to you, your business’s NPS shows you the level of loyalty your customers have for the business. It shows you how likely they’ll recommend your product or service to their friends or colleagues.

On a scale of one to ten:

  • 9 – 10 are loyal, would recommend you to others, and would keep buying
  • 7 – 8 are indifferent and can move to other brands if they want
  • 0 – 6 are unhappy and can soil your reputation with negative comments

In a Bain and Company study, shoppers who’ve bought ten or more times from you refer 50 percent more buyers than one-time shoppers.

So the best audience to target for your referral programs is frequent buyers.

Regular shoppers are more likely to refer people to your business. And they send significantly more leads your way than anyone else.

Using SMS, which almost guarantees high open rates, ask your loyal buyers to refer people to your business. You may decide to incentivize this request for referrals too.

3. Boost Your Subscriber Base by Targeting In-Store Shoppers

Boost Your Subscriber Base by Targeting In-Store Shoppers

The line separating the online and offline world is quickly blurring out. And this isn’t only about virtual or augmented reality. Even the simple mobile phone has become instrumental in bringing your local store online.

Use attractive offers in your retail shops to ask your in-store shoppers to subscribe via SMS in exchange for incentives. You can offer different discount types, depending on your strategy. For instance, asking your customers to subscribe using a short code by SMS for a credit card.

4. Track and Measure Your Customer Engagement

SMS marketing is a business growth strategy that helps you engage your customers. As you might imagine, engaged customers buy more from you.

Hence, you can measure the success rate of your marketing campaign by sending messages with trackable links. These types of messages make it easy to track your customers’ engagement with your marketing messages.

Return to the Table Of Contents

5. Use SMS for Call to Action

Since the click-through rate (CTR) is high with SMS, leverage it to deliver timely messages to your audience.

However, not all Call to Action (CTA) is appropriate for SMS. With a maximum of 160 characters, your SMS can’t have lengthy texts that end with “Read More,” or pitches that end with “Buy Now” or “Sign Up.”

However, your timely messages can use:

  • Click the link
  • Call us
  • Text back
  • Visit us

Yes, that sort of thing. You want them to act.

6. Manage Your Product Recalls and Returns

Defective products can impact your reputation negatively. Hence, as an obligation, you must recall hazardous products that result from design and production errors.


Image Credit: GS1 New Zealand

You want to act speedily when notifications of product defects reach you. And an SMS platform can help. You can use text messages to manage single product defects to mass defects.

Leveraging SMS, you can quickly reach your customers with information on the status of your product, and guide them on the next course of action.


Image Credit: Lontae

For mass defects, your first call would be to stop all distribution of the product, then send recall notification to your customers through SMS.

7. Use SMS to Boost Your Email Open-Rate

Some businesses either use Email or SMS in their marketing campaign, but savvy ones use both channels strategically.

Since emails convey detailed messages well, you can use it for lengthy conversations that require explanations. Furthermore, an email allows attachments like brochures and downloadable documents. But the chances are that most of your customers won’t see the email.

Hence, you want to leverage the higher open rate of text messaging to boost your email open-rate.

In one Smart Insights report, SMS helped businesses experience a 20 to 30 percent boost in their email open. A simple message that asked eads, “have you read our email?” did the magic.

8. Offer Discounts and Build Top-of-the-Mind Awareness

Building your brand takes more than having a catchphrase, brilliant logo designs, and brand colors. You want your customers to remember you.

To stay top-of-the-mind, you can use SMS strategies like

  • Keeping track of and sending anniversary messages to your customers
  • Sending them tips and helpful information on using your product or service
  • Offering discounts and promotions
  • Giving them party invites
  • Sharing news headlines if appropriate

And more. Here are some examples.

A local Domino’s Pizza stays top-of-the-mind by offering discounts via text messages.


Another brand, ARM, also uses discounts sent via SMS to invite their leads to sign up for their program.


You may also use trackable URLs in your SMS to uncover the best send times for your messages. And then take advantage of the timing when running your campaign.

Up to 90 percent of your customers would read your message. So if you’re offering discounts, you want to be ready for the rush. For example, make sure your staff can fulfill your offers on time.

9. Boost Your Revenues By Getting Instant Buyer-Feedback

Sending your buyers a survey immediately they leave your store can help you get a sense of how satisfied they feel about your food or their shopping experience at your place.

This point can also be helpful for an event if you host online or offline events. When a session ends, get a quick sense of what your attendees enjoyed and what they didn’t like. And then, use that feedback to improve on your coming event sessions.

You can send your leads to a page on your website or app to leave a short survey like the one below.


Surveys and feedback can help you discover profitable patterns you can leverage to boost your revenue and customer satisfaction.

10. Abandoned Cart Notification

Trying to recover all abandoned carts is a waste of time because, on average, approximately 70 percent of shopping carts are abandoned. As high as 92 percent of the visitors to a retail website have no intention to buy.

You can automate your SMS such that when a customer adds products to their cart without checking out, they receive notification automatically. But you must have collected their phone numbers to make this possible. You must send the abandoned cart SMS fast and create an easy link for them to get back to the cart.

You can increase your success rate by offering incentives, such as discounts and free deliveries.

11. Delivery Alert and Customer Service

Customers want you to keep them in the loop. So you could send them delivery tracking notifications about their purchases by SMS.


More so, you can use SMS for customer service. This Australian health care service does with their patients, see the message above.


Brands like Amazon and DHL already use this channel because it’s effective. You can copy them safely.

12. Product Launch, New Stock, and Product Updates

Product Launch, New Stock, and Product Updates
Most businesses have come to rely on email for their product launch and for keeping their customers updated about new stocks or improvements. But SMS can offer exciting opportunities too.

You can inform your target audience about new products, discounts, services, and events via text messages. Studies have shown that SMS might even be more potent than email.


SMS messages have a 209 percent higher response rate than messages on apps, email, or Facebook. In one study, sales leads who got a text message during a product launch converted 40 percent higher than those who didn’t get a text message.

Salesforce says that 89 percent of marketers report that SMS marketing commands more results than business websites and display ads. More so, 82 percent of marketers either maintained or increased their investment in SMS marketing.

In short, using SMS to launch your product gets you the types of results you love.

13. Manage Your Customer Appointments

If you offer services, you might want to confirm or remind your customers of an appointment via SMS. You’d reduce the chances of cancellation because 70 percent of respondents agree that using SMS is a good way to get their attention.

Likewise, if you choose to stay open to accommodate late buyers, you can inform your busy customers of extended hours.

14. Distribute Your Coupon to More People


Text messages can create a sense of urgency around your discount, coupon codes, or flash sales. Due to the fast open and response rates of SMS, you can get a response almost instantly.

So you can compile the phone numbers of leads who respond and target them in future campaigns.

Mobile coupons allow you to send your brand codes to customers quickly. You can send them as coupon codes via SMS that they can present at check out.

 

Get Savvy: Earn More Money, Trust, and Referrals

It’s action time. But you don’t have to act on everything. Take one or a few ideas that resonate with you. And put them to work. That’s what works.

Decide on what goals matter most to your business right now. Is earning more money the most import thing right now? Would earning more trust boost your business value better? Or would you rather get more referrals now?

It’s time to get savvy. Choose a goal and take action today.

How to increase your SMS open rate

With business competition so high these days, companies today must be aggressive in the marketing of their products and services. This means utilizing a variety of traditional and new marketing strategies and tools to engage new customers and manage them once they are acquired.

New marketing tools are the rage today with SEO, social media marketing, websites and blogs, and email marketing now getting the most focus from marketing executives across the world.

Businesses know that people are spending more time online and opportunities for marketing to them there are increasing. As online marketing strategies evolve from simply pushing marketing at consumers to getting them to engage and interact more with the marketing, conversion rates are beginning to rise.

Apart from the online marketing, SMS marketing also plays a major role in developing a relationship with your customers and converting prospects. According to a statistic report 2019, there are 5 billion people sending and receiving SMS messages globally. It is about 65% of the world’s population.

SMS Messaging Was and is Very Effective

As we have moved to mobile phones becoming the center of business marketing efforts, it is easy to forget that what was considered the original mew marketing tool started out on mobile phones even before the internet became a factor. It was SMS or text messaging that got companies to consider mobile phones as a marketing device.

SMS marketing was an immediate hit and has enjoyed during its life a very high open rate. In fact, globally text messaging enjoys an open rate of more than 90%. In a world of two-way communication being a standard, this is an astounding number. It has caused SMS messaging to be a standard tool for many companies to use to engage potential customers or to alert customers to new products, specials, discounts and other promotions.

But not all SMS messages are created equal and many SMS marketing campaigns do not meet their objectives. The first goal of any SMS campaign is to get customers to open the test mail. Here are the proven methods for increasing your SMS open rates.

Perfect Your first Line

You need to be able to capture the attention of your target market with introductions that resonate with them. Look at other successful SMS messages to get some ideas on how to get people to open your text.

Collect Data and Analyze It

You should collect data on every aspect of your SMS marketing campaign, and analyze this data to perfect the campaign. Look at your target market, the actual message, the offer, and the results to determine how you did, and what can be improved. After you have made adjustments, test these changes with new SMS messages. Repeat this process continuously.

Timing is everything

Make sure that you send your SMS messages at the right time. You want to send a message near the time you want the person to take action. If you want to direct them to a sale, do it the night before or morning of the sale. Pope expect an SMS message to be current. So give them what they expect. Make is a last minute call to action.

Use SMS to Enlighten

The best rule for sending SMS is the 80/20 rule where you 80% of the text messages you send to customers are helpful or informative, and only 20% are a sales pitch. The idea here is similar with blogs which is to become a resource for quality information as you present offers.

Coordinate with Email Marketing

It has been shown that SMS marketing works well with email marketing when coordinated properly. Both forms of marketing have their strengths and weaknesses, so you need to understand both intimately in order to get the most out of each. But when executed properly the combination will increase your customer attraction and conversion.

Final Words

All the above strategies are designed to help you improve the open rate for both email and SMS rates. As long as you will keep these tips in mind, you will have nothing to worry about with retention or open rates!

SMS Marketing is also a better and smarter choice than social media (Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin). Because almost 100% of mobile phones are SMS-enabled, it’s the easiest communication channel everyone in the world knows how to use and, above all, because 99% of all SMS messages are opened and read within 5 minutes or less. This is a huge open and read rate!

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) — Security And Other Considerations For Stakeholders

Today’s employees are always connected, thanks to ubiquitous broadband and a wide range of portable devices, from smartphones, tablets and laptops to fitness trackers and a plethora of smart devices such as watches, cameras and GPS navigators. How necessary is this level of connection?

Cinemas and restaurants are no longer peaceful, with beeps, chimes, vibrations and other alerts notifying everyone in the vicinity that something else (generally of a trivial nature) has occurred in your vast network of contacts. It makes sense that social addicts want to spread this contagion to the workplace since not being connected can produce a sense of withdrawal not unlike that of those coming off hard drugs. We need someone to like that oh-so-interesting photo of last night’s chicken chow mein. We need someone to know how we feel at work… Or do we?

BYOD Motivated By Cost Savings?

Let’s look at the motives behind BYOD adoption for companies and device users. Visitors to your home quickly request access to your Wi-Fi as most are tied to a set data plan by their mobile carrier, with a monthly cap and corresponding rate per gigabyte of usage. Using Wi-Fi, device users can access broadband Internet and reduce data usage over 3G, 4G or 5G. Therefore, we can safely conclude that users want BYOD to save money on data charges by connecting to the company Wi-Fi.

Employers also want to save money, of course and by allowing employees to use their own devices, do not have to issue company-owned devices. Since it is likely that personal devices are of a higher spec than those purchased for business use, there are also possible productivity benefits.

In an ideal world, the story ends there, everyone involved saves money and lives happily ever after. Unfortunately, there are drawbacks for both parties, ultimately caused by data, user and device management requirements.

Can any company afford to provide Wi-Fi access without considering potential security risks to the network and the data residing on it? No, as every jurisdiction is likely to have regulations and mandatory requirements relating to data security, personally identifiable information (PII) or indeed e-discovery. Therefore, any cost savings in allowing BYOD are likely cancelled out by the management of BYOD devices.

Practical BYOD Issues

As a former network administrator, I appreciate the additional workload a BYOD program can place on the IT team (the team blamed when the network is breached or data is lost).

The problems with BYOD from a security perspective include but are not limited to:

  1. Permission management–to ensure secure access (by user, device or network credentials), a solution aimed at mobile device management (MDM) is best.
  2. Device Management–companies need to decide on the device types and manufacturers they will allow on the network. Additional requirements could relate to the device OS revision/version involved. To allow all mobile device access is a mistake as cheaper brands could use an earlier OS version with known vulnerabilities or apps that can exploit network connections.
  3. Security updates–if the device owner does not encrypt the device or install security updates then it is a weak point on your network.
  4. Viruses, malware and other threats–again, virus scanners and other security tools must have the latest updates to protect the device and, in turn, the company network.
  5. Employee exit procedures–When the owner of a BYOD device leaves the company, the device must be cleaned to remove company data in a secure manner. This can require admin access to the device, a problem for many device owners, who do not like being ‘spied on’.
  6. Lost or stolen devices–If a BYOD device is lost or stolen, there is a potential data loss/breach involved. For this reason, the remote wipe is a useful admin feature. Unfortunately, such control is often a problem for device owners (see (5)).

For employers considering BYOD, device admin is typically the single thorny issue. If a user does not want the company to administer the device (and I wouldn’t) then the company should not allow the device to connect to company Wi-Fi. End of story. If the same employee needs a company device for travel or remote work, then issue a company-owned device as the company can administer it as they desire.

In conclusion, I believe that constant connectivity is not needed, unless you are a volunteer firefighter or an on-call medical professional. For family emergencies, SMS is still an effective way to receive an urgent message. After all, employees can still use their mobile carriers for internet access if needed at work. From a company perspective, is it easier to only allow company-issues devices access to the network? It varies from company to company, but for the most part, when full administration of employee-owned devices is necessary, the resulting admin and security risks may not be worth it. There are also HR (if an employee uses the device on work tasks outside working hours, expect to compensate that employee) and legal considerations (under e-discovery, mobile devices are included, and data loss can result in substantial fines) in some jurisdictions. I recommend you identify all potential risks before embarking on a BYOD strategy. What do you think? Is the use of personal devices an issue in your company?

Two Hot Cyber Security Trends You Should be Considering

Ebbs and flows of cybersecurity trends are no surprise to seasoned IT professionals, but sometimes it can be hard to keep up with what’s coming next and what’s on it’s way out.

The trick to staying in the know is constant conversation in amongst your peers, and keeping up with the technology companies currently making splash when it comes to thwarting attacks and keeping your data safe.

Today, we’re breaking down two hot trends in cybersecurity that you should be on top of—ransomware and blockchain.

Ransomware: defense is a high priority.

This particular pain for IT professionals has been an increasing threat lately because of the new capability to outsource the development of custom ransomware strains.

So, someone could be working with a hacker to build a ransomware specifically designed to attack you. The hackers get a portion of the proceeds as payment, meaning this doesn’t usually require any money up front.

Two popular examples are WannaCry and Petya, striking Britain’s National Health Service and personal bitcoin wallets.

Dan Manson, National Cyber League Commissioner, suggests how to prepare:

“Businesses need to stop looking for cybersecurity professionals in the wrong places and using outdated ways of hiring employees. We find that many companies lack the understanding of potential cyber threats and also are unfamiliar with the state of the cybersecurity landscape. Therefore, they don’t know better than to rely on a resume than to ask a potential employee to show proof of their skills being validated.

This is the main reason the National Cyber League started providing NCL Scouting Reports. Not only does this report reflect personal cybersecurity skills growth, but cybersecurity students are getting jobs as it shows employers their skills are tested and validated,” Manson told pheonixNAP.

His advice rings logically true—ransomware is evolving at an alarming rate, and the first step in defense against is your talent.

Finding the right person for ransomware defense could mean the difference between a near miss and a billion dollar mistake.

Blockchain: improving the security of transactions.

On a happier note, there’s something new on the horizon that looks to be an improvement for the cybersecurity professionals of today.

Cryptocurrency and blockchain are commonly referred to together, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive, and blockchain has the potential for very positive security applications.

Lawrence Aucoin, CTO and Managing Partner at Optimal IdM, discusses the future of blockchain for security professions, no matter how vague:

“Blockchain applied to an identity world is an interesting, if not fairly speculative, real-world application,” Aucoin told CSO.

“Some of the compelling foundational components of an identity blockchain are that you don’t need a central ‘store’ (or bank) as a middleman to trade with a partner. In fact, you don’t even need to know who the partner is—only that they are a verified participant in the blockchain. Trust is essential to commerce and that is blockchain’s sweet spot.”

Because blockchain is all about trust, there is a huge financial motivation. IT professionals should keep an eye out for more attempted attacks on blockchain solutions, as well as more developments and applications for corporations.

As we look ahead to new trends, we need to assume that the urgency and concern data breached foster is only going to rise. Keeping up with trends is just one step on the journey towards true cybersecurity.

Daily SMS Mobile Usage Statistics

It’s official—mobile use is now prevalent throughout internet users and businesses. Most people would respond to this statement with, “I could’ve told you that,” but what we’re still learning is how people interact with these mobile devices, and how they can best used to service businesses effectively and securely.

Analysts and companies of all shapes and sizes have released statistics about developments in mobile use this past year, and particularly, how companies have grown to use SMS. Here are some of the most impressive findings.

Mobile use is so big, the world starts to use these devices the moment we wake up.

According to ExpressPigeon, over half of users grab their smartphones immediately after waking up. This is just one of the ways we’ve grown to interact with our mobile devices more as time has gone by.

These mobile usage statistics indicate that mobile use is growing in new ways—especially when using SMS.

  • According to Nielsen, SMS is the most used data service in the world.
  • According to MBA online, more than 4.2 billion people are texting worldwide.
  • According to the Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans text regularly and 97% of adults text weekly.
  • According to CTIA, 6 billion SMS messages are sent each day in the US, over 180 billion are sent each month, and 2.27 trillion are sent each year.
  • According to Portio Research, the world will send 8.3 trillion SMS messages this year alone – 23 billion per day or almost 16 million per minute.
  • According to Statistic Brain, the number of SMS messages sent monthly increased by more than 7,700% over the last decade.

The reason that SMS messages are being sent at a faster speed across the globe—when it comes to communication effectiveness, they work.

  • According to Mobile Marketing Watch, SMS messages have a 98% open rate, while email only has a 20% open rate.
  • According to Velocify, SMS messages have a 45% response rate, as opposed to email which has a 6% response rate.

It’s clear that SMS is very influential for the general population’s overall use, but it’s not just personal use. Statistics show that businesses are starting to pay more attention to SMS as a reliable and secure communication source.

Most businesses think that their customers want support via SMS.

The most important communication for businesses isn’t always internal. Sometimes it’s communication with customers, and data shows that businesses are starting to make the move to customer communication via SMS message.

  • According to ICMI, 79% of companies believe customers want SMS support, and 1 in 5 customers is just as likely to prefer a text message from a business to a phone call.
  • According to Dimension Data, 38% of contact centers currently use SMS, and 23% have plans to implement in the next 12 months.
  • According to Forrester & ContactBabel, SMS text decreases the price of a customer service call from $6-$20 call to pennies per session.

Customer service isn’t the only use—businesses are starting to see the benefits to SMS message for internal use, as the response rate is so much higher.

  • According to eWeek, 80% of people are currently using texting for business.
  • According to eWeek, over one-third of business professional say they can’t go 10 minutes without responding to an SMS message.
  • According to Loyalty 360, 20% of financial services companies use SMS to ensure business continuity and add to their multichannel capabilities.
  • According to Vitiello Communications Group, nearly 70% of employees think their companies should us SMS to communicate with employees, and 86% say it should not just be reserved for customer communication.

These statistics show that mobile use isn’t just here to say, but that it’s growth is changing the way businesses are communicating securely and reliably both internally and with customers.

SMSEagle is Hardware SMS gateway to send and receive SMS text messages. To find out how we can help you reach your customers, check out our online store.

6 reasons why texting works better than app push notifications

There are plenty of people, perhaps even you, who believe that an app is the answer to every company’s communication challenges.

It’s true that apps are generally easy to find and install. Since more people are using mobile devices, some as a prime source of communication instead of a desktop or a laptop, an app isn’t a bad way to access information without visiting your device’s browser.

Plus, ‘push’ notifications from some apps make it easy to provide you the exact info you need rather than having to search it out.

However, there’s also another digital tool that’s even easier to work with: the text message.

Some have said that SMS has served its purpose and is past its prime, but texting continues to be a popular way of interacting. Here’s why:

  • You can respond. Push notifications are one-way messages sent to everyone who has signed up through an app. If you want to respond or have further questions, you must find contact info through your app or a company site, and then send an email, a voice mail or even a text. With texts you can always respond and even have a conversation.
  • Access to larger audiences. Not everyone who is a fan of a particular company or product will download its official app, or even has the right type of phone to do so. But just about everyone has text capabilities on their mobile devices. Businesses wanting to connect with more subscribers and potential customers can easily send texts rather than cultivating the smaller number of app subscribers.
  • Easy to create multiple lists and manage multiple campaigns. Companies that send out mass texts can use texting programs to segment different audiences, often by different topics, demographic info or interests. But with push notifications, every subscriber gets the same message, although every end-user can configure how they’re displayed.
  • Texting is inexpensive. Texting is one of the more affordable ways to contact customers. You may have to pay extra if you create MMS (multimedia messages with audio, video or photo attachments) or buy short codes, which are words and numbers customers can use to respond to you. In comparison, an app can be a significant financial investment for your company. Whether you’re building one from the ground up or a using a third-party, the process takes weeks or even months of design and testing time.
  • Easy sign-up. To subscribe to a business text list requires only one opt-in, where you inform the company that you want to start receiving their messages. Push notifications, on the other hand, require installing the app, customizing it to sign up for apps, and sometimes adding other security steps such as an authentication passcode.
  • Universal compatibility. Texting works worldwide, or at least anywhere you can access a mobile network. Apps may have certain restrictions or areas where notifications may not work.

Overall, app notifications make it easy to connect to mobile users. But in terms of person-to-person communication, texting still remains champion.

5 Security Experts on Why IT Leaders Need to Start Automating

Automation has been cited as the next big thing for IT leaders looking to secure their communications in all types of cloud environments—but leadership knows the challenges they face in doing so.

Answering to a Network World survey, 47% of respondents claim that it is difficult to monitor network behavior from end-to-end, and 41% say these security operations have difficulties that arise from cloud computing.

The main problem with not automating security operations is scalability and the difficulty in setting up these systems. But it’s necessary—it’s impossible to keep up with the increasing pace, limited cybersecurity, and network operations personnel, all while managing network security operations on a box-by-box, or CLI-by-CLI basis.

But don’t take our word for it. These five security experts have driven deep into the world of network security, and have their own reasons for passing along advice to IT leaders to start automating security processes today.

Security Experts and their Reasons for Encouraging IT Leaders to Automate

According to the Enterprise Security Group (ESG) 63% of networking and cybersecurity professionals working at enterprise organizations (more than 1,000 employees) believe network security operations is more difficult today than it was two years ago.

The bottom line – the main roadblock standing in the way of IT leaders and automated security process is difficulty. Here’s why you should take the plunge despite the challenges.

Jon Oltsik, ESG Senior Principal Analyst and Founder of the Firm’s Cybersecurity Service

Oltsik knows the scalability problems that security leadership faces, even though leadership knows the risk they’re taking without it. He cites a survey of 150 IT professionals, where 31% of respondents say automation is “critical” to address future IT initiatives, while 58% claim it is “very important” to address future IT initiatives.

Because of the recognition of its importance, the technology industry is listening – Companies like Cisco, Fortinet, Check Point, and more have all introduced solutions that will assist security network operations teams in automation and visibility of their networks. His advice to leadership is to adopt these technologies:

“Since relying on people and manual processes can’t scale or keep organizations secure, CISOs and network operations managers should assess where they are in the network security operations automation transition as soon as possible, making sure to look into their people, processes and technologies.

Once shortcomings and bottlenecks are discovered, large organizations should develop a plan to address these areas and institute network security operations automation projects, phasing in capabilities over the next few years.” Jon Oltsik

Stephanie Tayengco, SVP of Operations, Logicworks

Tayengco is a proponent for automation, but automation the right way in the face of risk. Her bottom line—you need to get rid of as much manual work as possible to stay secure.

According her, it’s important to automate infrastructure buildout first, continually check instances across the environment, fully automate deployments, include automated security monitoring in those deployments, and finally, prepare for the future of automation.

“Ninety-five percent of all security incidents involve human error, according to IBM’s 2014 Cyber Security Intelligence Index.

This year alone, enterprises will spend $8 billion on cyber security, but these initiatives are often useless in preventing an engineer from misconfiguring a firewall or forgetting to patch a security vulnerability on a new server. Manual work is risk, and manual security work is a disaster waiting to happen.” – Stephanie Tayengco

Gabby Nizri, CEO, Ayehu

Nizri is worried about the rising number of security breaches. According to the ISACA 2015 Global Cybersecurity Status Report, 781 publicized cyber security breaches resulted in 169 million personal records being exposed.

Well-known companies like BlueCross, Harvard and Target were involved, making it clear that even the most sophisticated and well-funded security departments aren’t safe. Even so, only 38% of organizations across the globe can confidently say they are prepared to handle a sophisticated cyber-attack. Because of this, Nizri urges you to automate.

“Simply put, IT personnel are no match for such intensive, sustained attacks. Not only are humans incapable of keeping up with the sheer volume of incoming threats, but their ability to make quick and highly-impactful decisions to manually address such an attack is equally inefficient.

This is why automation is becoming such a powerful and effective component of cyber security incident response. To combat the onslaught of incoming threats, organizations must employ an army of equivalent strength and sophistication.” – Gabby Nizri

Danelle Au, VP of Strategy and Marketing at SafeBreach

Automation isn’t all about just avoiding mistakes. Au cites instances where automation makes an IT department more agile, and improves processes such as application delivery.

For the private cloud environment, applications and desktops are being virtualized at an faster than ever before. According to Au, As the number of virtual machines (VMs) increases, automation and orchestration is no longer a “nice to have.”

“The ability to translate complex business and organization goals into a set of automated data center workflows is critical to not slowing down the application delivery process. It is also an essential part of making compliance and security requirements a lot easier to manage in a very dynamic environment.

To fully realize the promise of private clouds or software defined data centers (as VMware defines it), the traditional IT infrastructure — in particular network security — needs to transform into agile and adaptive end-to-end automated processes.” – Danielle Au

Brian Dye, VP of Intel Security Group

A recent ESG study noted that 46% of organizations said they have a “problematic shortage” of cybersecurity skills—up from 28% just a year ago. That means the development of these skills in IT personnel isn’t improving at a rate needed to keep up with threats.

One-third of those respondents said their biggest gap was with cloud security specialists. According to Dye, this is the reason security automation is important, as well for working with SDN technologies and responding to breaches.

“As organizations explore software defined networking (SDN), they see a need for more automation skills, as security policy must co-exist with the orchestration to fully exploit an SDN environment. These skills become especially important as virtualization expands beyond servers and into networks and storage.” – Brian Dye

Network security automation is important for many reasons – the risks associated with manual processes, adaptation to new technologies, the agility of the cloud, and the race to keep up the skills needed in personnel to use new emerging technologies.

Creating the proper mix of skillsets, automation and processes will provide IT leaders with the security confidence they need moving forward.

SMSEagle is Hardware SMS gateway to send and receive SMS text messages. To find out how we can help support your network security program, check out our online store.

How SMS Remains Relevant in Spite of Emerging Tech

In 1992, the first Short Message Service (SMS) simply read “Merry Christmas”. More than 20 years later, texting via SMS has lost none of its purpose, despite the rise of multimedia messaging service (MMS), the smartphone in 2010, subsequent over the top (OTT) messaging apps and of course, social media solutions such as Facebook. Whether for personal or business use, SMS usage has continued unabated, which is impressive for such ‘outdated technology’ that was originally designed for Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) networks. As 5G approaches, SMS remains.

When technology moves so fast, how has SMS remained so popular? How can companies capitalise on it to improve internal processes, customer services and other activities?

Trivial Update or Important?

Today, if dining in a local restaurant, we’re treated to a variety of repetitive whistles, chirps and other alerts from smartphones in the vicinity, most of which are ignored by their owners. The reason for this is simple; these alerts typically originate from messaging apps, which cost the sender nothing and as a result rarely require an instant response. An SMS alert is quite different and, while costs vary according to monthly subscription tariffs, there’s a cost involved. The result? Most will quickly read the message and send a response if necessary. In fact, marketing professionals are well aware of this fact, that SMS has the highest engagement rate of all messaging options, with 90 per cent of all SMS messages read within three minutes.

You’re probably wondering, why SMS? Why not call the person directly? Of course, that’s an option but if a group of people are involved, or you’re simply sending a short greeting or confirmation that you’ll arrive soon, isn’t SMS more convenient?

SMS vs. OTP Apps

When compared with Skype, Facebook or other messaging solutions, SMS has several other advantages. SMS bundles are typically included as part of a service plan and are directly linked to your mobile phone. In other words, if you use a mobile, you have SMS functionality without having to subscribe or join another service. You don’t have to invite contacts or accept invitations to communicate.

Not everyone has a smartphone so use of SMS ensures that your contact will receive your message regardless of phone type. The same isn’t true of OTP apps, which relies on high-speed internet to work. If you lose your 3G signal, voice and indeed SMS are still possible.

In fact, in an emergency situation such as a blackout, or during times where mobile traffic is very high (New Year’s Eve, for example), an SMS is typically the best solution as it’s queued in the short message service centre (SMSC) and will be delivered as soon as the bandwidth is available. An SMS text, being limited to 160 characters, takes much less bandwidth than a voice call so is more likely to be processed quicker. Compare that with the frustration of repeatedly dialing and receiving no response.

P2P and A2P

SMS is broken into two distinct types, namely person to person (P2P) and application to person (A2P). P2P is self-explanatory and can include voting  for reality TV shows and entering competitions but A2P is primarily used in the business world and is a growing market, having been adopted by many industry areas and repurposed to aid several business processes including but not limited to:

  1. Customer Security – A2P is used by companies as part of a two-step or two-factor authentication (2FA) process when accessing services that are considered a viable target for hackers. The process typically involved a standard login to a service. Then, as the second step, a passcode is sent to the user’s phone by SMS. The user then enters the passcode and is able to access the service. Banks, other financial service providers and organisations such as Google, Facebook and Hootsuite also protect their customer accounts by combining geolocation detection with SMS transmission, alerting users that their account has been accessed from a suspicious location.
  2. IT and risk management – IT teams may not work 24 hours a day but your business network may well rely on services that require 100 per cent uptime, such as support ticket management or e-commerce solutions. Devices that incorporate a mobile SIM card can alert you when internet connectivity has failed and reduce required response times considerably.
  3. Marketing – Due the high engagement rate mentioned previously, digital marketers with a ‘mobile first’ strategy will include SMS as a vital part of their communication with customers.
  4. Emergency alerts – Emergency services are considering the addition of SMS and in hospitals, paging systems based on SMS technology are commonly employed. The reason is of course based on redundancy, when all else fails, SMS is an excellent and affordable solution.

In conclusion, advancing technology has made smartphones and global collaboration over broadband a reality but despite all this progress, SMS still has a viable role to play in connecting them. While email, OTP apps, VoIP are all useful, they rely on the internet. Without it, SMS and standard voice communication are the only options and are extremely unlikely to become obsolete in the foreseeable future.

 

3 Secret Habits of Really Effective Network Security Programs

Effective network security programs require more than just one layer of protection if one solution fails, you still have others guarding your company and its data from all types of network attacks.

There are best practices that set the highly effective network security programs apart from the rest.

A recent survey conducted by ReRez Research, and commissioned by Infoblox, shows that when IT departments are segmented by security success factors, there are certain best practices that rise to the top.

The study was comprised of 200 large organizations, and shows how certain habits differed between organizations with top-tier network security programs and everyone else.

These alterations in behavior matter, as breaches in security can cost organizations large fees in both recovery and damages.

Analysts estimate the cost of a typical unplanned network outage now tops $740,000. Protecting the network – from problems like breaches, outages and poor performance – is crucial for organizations. – Infoblox 2016 Network Protection Survey

Education is the first place you should start. Your network security awareness program is probably following a one-year plan, which isn’t the best practice. Programs that follow 90-day plans are more effective, and focus on three topics simultaneously throughout those 90 days.

After your awareness program is in place, start thinking about your network security structure in a different way.

Below are the three secrets of the most highly effective network security programs.

1. Make Sure there is Cooperation Between the Network, Security and Application Teams

Siloing the various teams in your department can stifle your security activities, and keep you from reaching your goals. Network operations staff, the security staff and the application teams should all be communicating fluidly, with 100% of top-tier organizations in the survey citing this as a best practice.

High performing organizations are 9x more likely than others to be using integrated visibility tools already, and they’re 4x as likely to be using integrated security tools in conjunction.

Communication becomes paramount when it comes to reporting. One key factor in running a successful network security program is being able to prove that success. The only way to do so is to collect metrics that reflect this success across the organization.

2. Utilize DNS/DHCP Data to it’s Full Potential

This is a slowly growing but serious differentiator between effective and mediocre security departments. According to the survey, close to half of top-tier organizations use DNS/DHCP data to discover other new devices, compared to zero other contenders.

Not only are they tracking and utilizing the data, but they’re 3x as likely to use DNS logs for security purposes.

3. Commit to the Continual Use of Intelligence

The most successful organizations have a mechanism in place that forces them to commit to security intelligence. They’re 6x as likely to have deployed an SIEM, and 4x as likely to invest in machine-readable threat intelligence.

In addition to intelligence commitment, they’re 6x as likely to use automated tools that alert them to new devices appearing on the network.

Keep in mind some of these changes when building your network security program certain best practices could not only set you apart from the rest, but save your organization it’s reputation, and hundreds of thousands in damages.

SMSEagle is Hardware SMS gateway to send and receive SMS text messages. To find out how we can help support your network security program, check out our online store.