Even iMessage Isn’t Safe From Spam

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 21 2014 3:07 PM

Even iMessage Isn’t Safe From Spam

scam
One of the websites promoted by scam iMessages.

Screencap from the former sunglassstore-us.com site.

We all want the text message spam to stop. It’s enough with the strange phone numbers and flash sales. No one wants to buy or win a Gucci handbag from a text message. Do you hear that, spammers? This is not how people shop for luxury goods.

And yet! Instead of packing up the knockoff Prada bags and Oakley sunglasses, spammers are using a new approach and sending their links and exclamation marks over iMessage. Last week, the IT security firm Cloudmark released an analysis that shows a rise in spam being sent on Apple's messaging service.

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The report shows that many people surveyed in big cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, and New York get their text spam from the same large-scale campaigns. And in New York, for example, almost of half of text message spam comes over iMessage. Apple's service is what’s called an over-the-top layer on normal SMS texting that allows iMessage to use mobile data or Wi-Fi for connection. As a result, the messages send for free, so spammers can avoid fees (especially hefty international texting fees). And they can send as many messages as they want. Great.

If you're getting these pesky messages, don't tap the links or reply. And though Apple doesn't have a fix in place for iMessage spam, you can report “unwanted messages” to help keep your inbox clean. Fancy people don't let fancy friends fall for un-fancy text scams.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

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