Earlier this week it was reported by Wired Magazine in an article by Robert McMillan that iMessage was being heavily targeted by spammers. For these spammers, iMessage has become a cheap and lucrative way for them to send their unwanted advertisements to the annoyance of many of their users.
In an article published in computerworld, IT contributor Richi Jennings blamed Apple for dropping the ball for a poorly designed iMessage application and for also not doing enough to help resolve the problem. He also mentioned that for many users, the spam problem is so prevalent that iMessage had become unusable.
“For many users, iMessage is becoming an unusable cesspool of spam. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is under fire for poor security design in iMessage, and for failing to react to the (inevitable) spam problem that has ensued”
Robert McMillan in his article explained the method that these spammers were using to obtain the phone numbers associated with iMessage accounts
“Most of the time, the spammer will need a phone number to deliver the iMessage spam, but if you’ve added your email address to iMessage, the spammers can get you using that address too. (On your phone, you can see which addresses and phone numbers are associated with your iMessage account by visiting: Settings –> Messages –> Send and Receive),
Apple’s desktop client instantly tells you whether or not the number you’ve entered is registered with the iMessage network, so spammers could use this feature to generate a list of verified iMessages users. As an added bonus, iMessage notifies the spammer whether the message they’ve sent out has been read or not”
Once the spammer has collected a sizable list of iMessage associated phone numbers, with just 4 lines of code using Apple scripts, the spammer can send iMessage to whoever they want from a Mac machine.
“Apple’s iMessage system spans across the iPad, iPhone, and Apple’s laptop and desktop systems. That fusion of the desktop and mobile world makes it particularly easy for spammers to write a Mac OS script that can send messages to all types of devices just as fast as Apple will allow.”
Unfortunately for these frustrated iMessage users, their mobile carriers are not able to do anything about it because the spam message are traveling on Apple’s network. I did a search through the forums and the solutions offered ranged from the following options
- Completely turning off iMessage. This does not sound like much as a solution, as the user is completely losing a feature.
- Turning off notifications from unknown contacts. With this method, only messages from their contacts will appear in their notifications, but unfortunately the spam message will still reach the user and he or she will have to delete these messages from time to time. So this is really not a solution.
- Blocking the offender one number at a time, taking a screenshot and reporting it. This becomes very tedious after a while and does not prevent the spammer from sending spam from throw a way or spoofed phone numbers.
So why go through all the trouble and heartache? There is an even better alternative for these poor beleaguered souls and it is cross-platform BBM, which now is available on all major platforms, IOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows. Not only will user be able to reach more people, they will also be able to add contacts with the comfort of not having to give out their personal phone numbers if they don’t want to.
In an article, from Inside Blackberry blog, Jeff Gadway listed 5 reasons why BBM should be considered as an alternative to iMessage
- BBM is architected in a way that protects our 85 million users against spammers. iMessage works off of phone number or Apple ID. Anyone who has your number or Apple ID can send you messages whether you want them to or not. With BBM, users have a lot more control due to our “invite and accept” paradigm. In other words, both parties need to be mutually committed to being contacts in order to send and receive messages.
- BBM gives you control. There’s no spam on BBM due to its self-policing system. Users are in control of their contact list and there is no way to send a message without being contacts. You can’t control someone showing up to your house, but you don’t have to open the door. With BBM someone can request to be added to your list, but you don’t have to accept their invite.
- BBM Protected ups the security ante. Privacy is the main issue with iMessage and spam. BBM protects your privacy by only allowing users to send messages to approved contacts. Our secure enterprise messaging service, BBM Protected, takes it a step further by adding an advanced layer of encryption. This ensures your messages aren’t vulnerable to spying or hacking while being transmitted.
- BBM empowers you to protect yourself from unsolicited messages. On the rare chance that you get spam or an unwanted ad, you only need to block the person from your contact list and refuse further attempts to reach you in the future.
- BBM’s anti-spam features work on any platform. BBM is structured so that each user has a unique PIN that’s unique to him or her, regardless of what device is used. Here’s the added bonus: BBM is a true multi-platform network that allows you to securely message users on BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone and Android. That’s virtually 100% of all smartphones and tablets out there today. iMessage is only available on Apple products.
So there you have it folks. For all those iMessage users who are in despair and are suffering from unwanted spam there is an alternative.
- Why should you have to sift through mounds of spam to find the messages that you want from your family and friends?
- Why should you continually have to go through the process of blocking phone numbers from spammers only to have you send the same spam from another number?
- Why should you have to continually deal with a company that has dropped the ball in offering you a solution to your iMessage spam problem and is slow in responding to your complaints?
The answer is that you don’t have to. All you have to do is to download BBM, which is conveniently available in your app store today and you will be glad that you did.