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Report claims iMessage spam on the rise, but little evidence appears in support

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 
Despite accounts of purportedly wide-ranging unsolicited marketing campaigns plaguing iMessage users in recent months, spam on Apple's over-the-top messaging service appears to be the exception, rather than the rule.

An iMessage spam message, via Wired
An iMessage spam message, via Wired


A mid-July report from internet security firm Cloudmark singled out a campaign --?likely run by Chinese spammers --?directing iPhone users to sketchy online storefronts selling what appear to be counterfeit designer goods, such as Oakley sunglasses and Michael Kors clothing. Consumers appeared to have been targeted by geography, with those in Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, and New York City bearing the brunt of the assault.

Cloudmark indicated that the campaign, conducted via iMessage, is so widespread that more than 3 of every 10 unsolicited SMS messages in the U.S. could be attributed to it.

A followup article that appeared earlier this week in Wired -- based on the same research -- then decried iMessage as "being taken over by spammers." There appears, however, to be little evidence to support those claims.

A search of Apple's user forums, generally among the first places iPhone owners go to vent their frustration in such situations, returns relatively few results related to iMessage spam. The threads that do exist rarely boast more than 20 replies.
The internet holds few complaints of spam from iMessage users, even on Apple's own user forums.
Cloudmark itself has previously admitted that iMessage spam may be difficult to discern from SMS spam in their tracking database, which depends on users to send in unsolicited messages that they receive.

Even when operating under the assumption that Cloudmark is properly identifying iMessage spam, the numbers hardly suggest that Apple's service is being "taken over" by nefarious individuals.

According to telecom industry research firm Heavy Reading, some 1.5 percent -- or 120 billion -- of the estimated 8 trillion SMS messages sent around the globe each year are unsolicited. That works out to around 328 million daily spam messages, of which Apple's theoretical share would be nearly 100 million.

Were this the case, it would hardly be enough to qualify iMessage as having been "taken over" by spammers. Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company handles more than 2 billion iMessages each day, and earlier this year he revised that figure to "several billion."

At the lower figure, only about five percent of iMessages would be spam -- assuming Cloudmark's 30 percent figure is accurate.

Of course, iMessage spam exists. Apple admitted as much last year with the release of a new support document detailing a process for reporting unwanted iMessages and the implementation of sending rate limits.

"Taken over by spammers," though, seems more than just a little hyperbolic.
post #2 of 67

I received one of these spams, just like in the photo, a few weeks ago. Very annoying! I delisted my most commonly used e-mail addresses from iMessage, in the hopes this doesn't happen again. (I still receive e-mail spams very much like it.)

post #3 of 67
Never had one; ever.

Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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post #4 of 67
I have gotten this spam text from an email. every single one is a text message (green) not an iMessage, blue. To me, that indicates a Verizon issue (my carrier), not Apple.
post #5 of 67

I've been getting about one a week for the past six weeks or so.  But nothing this week, so far.

I, too, received the one pictured.
I'm not convinced this is a carrier thing; I'm on AT&T.

Quality isn't expensive... it's priceless.

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Quality isn't expensive... it's priceless.

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post #6 of 67
Me neither. Not a one.
post #7 of 67

Never have one.

post #8 of 67

I got one a couple days ago. Not being a moron by responding to it helps; it’ll think the account is dead if you don’t. Before or after? Nothing.

 

I do miss the AIM bots. They were at least partially intelligent. Nothing like Cleverbot, no, but able to run through a script and reply to offshoots. If you were to type “bot” or “spam”, it’d reply “Bot? I’m not a bot.” or “What’s a bot?” etc.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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post #9 of 67

I'd like to be able to whitelist the accounts I choose to get iMessages from.  Blacklists and "report text spam" are nothing more than a texting version of whack-a-mole.

 

While I'm thinking about it, do the same for Mail.

   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

  MA497LL/A FB463LL/A MC572LL/A FC060LL/A MD481LL/A MD388LL/A ME344LL/A

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   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

  MA497LL/A FB463LL/A MC572LL/A FC060LL/A MD481LL/A MD388LL/A ME344LL/A

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post #10 of 67

I have only had one single instance of this spam. I reported it to Apple per their guidelines. What I would like to see is an easier way to report the spam. Taking a screenshot of it and typing information in to an email to send to Apple is a pretty lame reporting method. ATT has a better reporting method, but since Apple owns the client they should be able to do the best interface for this.

post #11 of 67

I received them. They come fairly seldom--like every two months or so. None lately. The ones I received were trying to sell me Ray-Ban sunglasses. I can't tell you if they came to my phone number or an email.

post #12 of 67
I've had two in the last couple of months, previously none.
post #13 of 67
John Gruber linked to the instructions for reporting iMessage spam. Suffice it to say, that process needs to be made A LOT simpler unless Apple can contain this in a more automated way.

I've never gotten iMessage spam, but it's clear that some people have started to, and I don't want to see it grow. I hope Apple steps up before the problem really balloons, not after.
post #14 of 67

I've never received one single spam message through iMessage ever.

post #15 of 67
Luckily I have never received a spam over iMessage that I can remember. Occasionally over SMS.
post #16 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by starbird73 View Post

I have gotten this spam text from an email. every single one is a text message (green) not an iMessage, blue. To me, that indicates a Verizon issue (my carrier), not Apple.

All my incoming iMessages and SMS are gray. The green and blue messages are outbound.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #17 of 67

More bullshit FUD from the haters of Apple. I have not received one bit of spam from iMessage.

post #18 of 67
I've received two of the "Rayban" spams. Hardly an avalanche, however.
post #19 of 67

Add me to the list of those that has never received a spam text message.  Not on once in ios, or android for that matter.

 

I noticed that in gmail the spam emails that make it through come in waves.  I sometimes get maybe 3 or 4 spam emails in a week, and then nothing for a month or two.  Then a week will go by and I get 3 or 4 again, then nothing for a couple months.  Maybe it's only me but it's a pattern.

post #20 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by starbird73 View Post

I have gotten this spam text from an email. every single one is a text message (green) not an iMessage, blue. To me, that indicates a Verizon issue (my carrier), not Apple.

All my incoming iMessages and SMS are gray. The green and blue messages are outbound.

 

There is a small banner that shows if it's a text or iMessage.  It's visible in the screenshot fom the first post: 

 

   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

  MA497LL/A FB463LL/A MC572LL/A FC060LL/A MD481LL/A MD388LL/A ME344LL/A

Reply

   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

  MA497LL/A FB463LL/A MC572LL/A FC060LL/A MD481LL/A MD388LL/A ME344LL/A

Reply
post #21 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

Never had one; ever.

Me neither, but it would be nice for Apple to include algorithms that look for this spam since it all has to go through their iMessage servers as well as have a Report as Spam button. The former I don't put too much faith in since Apple's server-side email spam filter is still not nearly as good as Gmail's.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #22 of 67
I get them occasionally. But as I don't pay for texts or messages, it doesn't bother me that much..
But I still have to maintain a fax, and I get a lot there. It's illegal to send fax spam.
post #23 of 67
It's Wired.

So, no.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #24 of 67
Originally Posted by melgross View Post
But I still have to maintain a fax, and I get a lot there. It's illegal to send fax spam.


I remember seeing a prank somewhere that someone had taped together black construction paper in a loop and run it through a fax. Dial any number and their fax would print completely black sheets until it ran out of ink, paper, or both.

 

Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post
It’s Wired. So, no.

 

I did like their expose on Ballmer. Bit of a shocker with the imagery, but…

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

Reply
post #25 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Amhran View Post
 

More bullshit FUD from the haters of Apple. I have not received one bit of spam from iMessage.

God, I hate such head-in-sand responses as yours. All of the "I never got one ever" responses are typical, but the infantile stuff like yours is absolutely ridiculous. Rather than hope Apple will work to stem a problem, you seek to have the problem ignored and spur those who are bothered by it to have to shout even louder.

post #26 of 67
Haven't had one yet...
post #27 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post
 
Apple's server-side email spam filter is still not nearly as good as Gmail's.

No one knows what advertising looks like better than Google.

 

They know the guy who sent it, where he is, his date of birth, social security number and his mother's maiden name.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #28 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post
 

 

There is a small banner that shows if it's a text or iMessage.  It's visible in the screenshot fom the first post: 

 

 

Thanks, John.B. This is typical of what I receive. I would have included a pic in my post, but I always delete them.

post #29 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post
 

God, I hate such head-in-sand responses as yours. All of the "I never got one ever" responses are typical, but the infantile stuff like yours is absolutely ridiculous. Rather than hope Apple will work to stem a problem, you seek to have the problem ignored and spur those who are bothered by it to have to shout even louder.


A problem is a few hundred or more people having it happen, not a handful. This is a non-issue at this point.

post #30 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Amhran View Post


A problem is a few hundred or more people having it happen, not a handful. This is a non-issue at this point.

The important thing is that the minority cases are disproportionately vocal.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #31 of 67
I've received two spam iMessage texts ever. One was just like the one in the article photo.

I really hope Apple is being proactive in making sure this remains a very minor annoyance. I can easily see Spammers trying to do everything they can to break into iMessage more.
post #32 of 67
I've received about 10 of these very similar spam messages. At first I got them once every two days around the same time. All from different iMessage accounts. I reported each one and I haven't had one since.
post #33 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Amhran View Post


A problem is a few hundred or more people having it happen, not a handful. This is a non-issue at this point.

When you're talking about 10s to 100s of million of iMessage users and billions of messages a few hundred individuals isn't even a handful. That isn't to say that Apple shouldn't work to prevent it but it's not a "problem" at that fraction of a fraction of a percent. That said, I bet the number of people that have received iMessage spam are at te very least in the tens of thousands.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #34 of 67

since a few weeks, I get one spam every 6 or 7 days, from different unknown accounts.

 

 

I used iMessage only with my close family.

post #35 of 67

I've gotten at least two in the past few weeks, maybe three. One was definitely for sunglasses like in the picture. 

 

I don't have time to report spam. I just deleted the messages. But if Apple is worried about this, maybe they should make a one-click method of reporting spam, and/or have a whitelist like one of the readers suggested above. 

post #36 of 67
I heard a dude in Nebraska got one. So it's very, very prevalent and insidious, according to a local area analyst.
post #37 of 67
For a short time I was receiving text spams but none for months now. E-mail spam has continued to increase no matter what I do.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #38 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by cm477 View Post

I've gotten at least two in the past few weeks, maybe three. One was definitely for sunglasses like in the picture. 

I don't have time to report spam. I just deleted the messages. But if Apple is worried about this, maybe they should make a one-click method of reporting spam, and/or have a whitelist like one of the readers suggested above. 

John Gruber of Daring Fireball wrote something similar about only getting them in the past month and they were all for knock off Ray-Ban sunglasses.

You can report them, but it's a really archaic setup at this point (or, rather, no setup)…

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #39 of 67

What is an "over the top messaging service"? Does anyone at this web site know how to write?

post #40 of 67
I can concur, myself and my wife have been seeing these for a few weeks. We thought restricting iMessage to the phone number would help, has not so far. I did reply with STOP, and have not see one since. But pretty sure as soon as I type this message . . .
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