Why does this phone need more cowb3ll?
January 7, 2013 8:08 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know what is going on with the text messages shown in this image? Mrs. fireoyster's iPhone keeps getting these texts, starting about a month ago, from a number that none of us knows. They started out once every few days and are now up to two or three per day, usually eight to twelve hours apart. The string "DT" always begins each text and the string "-cowb3ll" always ends each text. Searching on the Internet has yielded no results. She does use iMessage and it functions properly. Her current number was ported from my account on Twilio; could this have something to do with it?
posted by fireoyster to Technology (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried googling the number to see if other people on the interwebs are complaining about something similar? Maybe it is a known spammer that you can get blocked through your provider?
posted by joan_holloway at 8:18 PM on January 7, 2013

Response by poster: Yup, couldn't find anything for the number, sadly.
posted by fireoyster at 8:38 PM on January 7, 2013

256 bit numbers coming every 12 hours sounds like an automated system. The numbers could be encryption keys or hashes. I've tried googling for ["dt prefix" hash/key] but couldn't find anything.
posted by jjwiseman at 8:55 PM on January 7, 2013

Pure speculation, but: Something tells me it's from the backoffice control software used to remotely execute functions on some 'intelligent' wireless device. Like, a parking meter or something.

Aaaaand when the owner/operator of said system entered the number for the SIM inside the modem attached to such a device, they fat-fingered it, entering your number accidentally.

Calling the number would probably not be immediately useful, but I doubt it would do any harm, and, depending on the application, might get the attention of a system administrator who could fix the oversight.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 9:38 PM on January 7, 2013

(Nit: there are 32 hex digits, which is 128 bits, not 256 bits.)
posted by stebulus at 9:40 PM on January 7, 2013

It's possible that it is a "status" or "test" message from Twilio, that somehow didn't get cancelled when you moved the phone number. It appears that Twilio uses a "cowbell.mp3" file for testing their API, which might explain the cowb3ll reference?

Have you tried just sending a "stop" command back? You may also want to ask the Twilio people, or on their forum. It definitely seems like an automated message of some kind, and that seems the most likely culprit - to me, anyway.
posted by gemmy at 9:46 PM on January 7, 2013

There aren't that many Google hits for {cowb3ll}. There's a Twitter account which seems to belong to a gamer, and a bunch of webpages associated with gaming accounts. Speculating, but these texts could be part of a phone-based game that this person signed up for. You could contact them through Twitter.
posted by stebulus at 7:01 AM on January 8, 2013

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