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Claim: Apple's iMessage accounts for 30 percent of all mobile spam

updated 01:28 pm EDT, Wed August 20, 2014

AppleScript, multi-platform hooks make spamming easier

Over 30 percent of all mobile spam messages are now being sent through Apple's iMessage system, claims Tom Landesman, a security researcher at Cloudmark. Many of the messages are pushing fake luxury products, such as sunglasses and handbags. Landesman explains that spammers are -- or were -- taking advantage of several aspects of Apple's ecosystem. However, Apple has responded to the charge, and said that some countermeasures have been implemented.

The most fundamental is that iMessage is preloaded on every Mac, iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, and syncs across those devices. Through AppleScript, it becomes possible to make a Mac automate the process of spamming content to thousands of people on multiple platforms, particularly hitting people who have iMessage linked to an email account and not just a phone number.

The Messages Mac app also notifies people whether or not a number is registered with iMessage, so it becomes relatively easy to generate a verified list. Read notifications let spammers check whether an account is active.

An Apple spokeswoman says she doesn't have a comment on the matter, but the company has already adopted some countermeasures in the past year. Rate-limiting prevents spammers from overwhelming the network, and people can email Apple with a screenshot and a spammer's details to get them banned. The company can, however, be relatively slow to enact those bans, taking days.

by MacNN Staff



  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08

    So you mean that offer of making $2,000-$3,000 a week working from home is bogus?!

  1. bdmarsh

    Junior Member

    Joined: 02-17-06

    I also find it interesting/lucky I haven't received any of this spam yet :)

  1. msuper69

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 01-16-00

    @pairof9s +1

  1. DrSkywalker

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-29-11

    I call shenanigans. I haven't received one yet. Could this be FUD from iOS competitors????

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 01-07-05

    No, it's not shenanigans. I have received such iMessage spam several times. It's very real.

    It's always for fake rayban sunglasses, and always from Chinese email addresses / AppleIDs. Not really a surprise.

  1. Truthsayer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-06-13

    I don't know about iMessage spam, but the spam filter in the Apple Mail app on my Mac is next to useless.

  1. Marook

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 05-05-99

    On iMessage, I can block all the numbers/emails I like - instantly - why do you need Apple to do this??
    At least on OS X 9.n & iOS 7+
    Anyway, I haven't seen any of those messages yet... On Skype though, it's another matter.. !

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    I've seen a single spam message, and of course blocked it. Skype is waaaaay worse about this, but that's not the point. Hopefully Apple will continue to revise the system to make spam messages more difficult to send.

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