Security company Cloudmark claims that almost a third of mobile spam messages are now being sent via iMessage thanks to the ease with which they can be sent from a Mac, reports Wired.

Thanks to one particularly aggressive campaign from a junk mailer, [iMessage spam] accounts for more than 30 percent of all mobile spam messages […]

“It’s almost like a spammer’s dream,” says Cloudmark’s Tom Landesman. “With four lines of code, using Applescripts, you can tell your Mac to send message to whoever they want.”

Part of the issue is that spammers don’t need your cell number to send you an iMessage: your email address is all they need if you’ve linked that address to iMessage.

Apple has already taken some steps to address the issue, limiting the rate at which iMessages can be sent – but spammers can work around that with multiple iMessage accounts, which require only an email address to create. Apple also allows spam-reporting, but as this requires an extremely clunky manual approach, few bother.

You have to email the company a screenshot of the spam, the phone number or email address of the spammer, and the date and time it was sent.

Wired says that the reporting procedure also seems ineffective: one address it reported was still active five days later.

One solution for users is to only allow iMessages from those in your contacts, by going into Settings >Notification Center > Messages and then scrolling right down to the bottom of the screen to change the default Show alerts from everyone to Show Alerts from My Contacts.

iMessages were the subject of controversy (and a lawsuit) when text messages continued to be sent to an inactive iMessage account for some users who switched away from an iPhone. Apple responded by promising a bug fix.

There are improvements to messaging in Yosemite and iOS 8, with screen-sharing on the Mac and several new features in iOS, including Tap to Talk and quick-reply.

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25 Responses to “iMessage “being taken over by spammers,” accounts for almost a third of mobile spam”

  1. macmann1980 says:

    Never once received iMessage spam. If I do, they’ll get blocked. Simple.


  2. rogifan says:

    Never had iMessage spam. I don’t trust data from security firms because they have an agenda – to sell anti-virus or anti-spam software.


  3. Tim Jr. says:

    I’ve not once received spam..

    I question this actually, because my understanding was if Apple saw an account spamming, they shut it down quick.. not only that, you cannot just make an iMessage account.. I tried w/o an idevice once.. won’t let you.. so if you get shut down .. short of buying a whole new iPhone, iPad, or mac.. you’re kind of screwed.


  4. Same here. Never, ever received a spam message over iMessage/iChat. And for as long as I remember, you have been able to block accounts that spam you.

    On Skype, though. I get spam.. and block them..


  5. Jeff Johnson says:

    I have. And from an sunglass’s company. Oakley I think. I have a friend who buys those and uses Yahoo email. I wonder if someone got my email/iMessage account from Yahoo.


  6. I have had about 7 spam messages over the last month, only recently started coming, and always from a junk aim account… Just block and delete…! The strange thing is they only come through to my computer, i have 3 message accounts on there, and only 2 on my iPhone and iPad, so i know which account they are being sent too…!!!


  7. nycjdc says:

    i receive those sunglass spam iMessages at least once per week. Block an address one week, it comes in under another address the next…it’s like whack-a-mole


  8. This is why I have not linked my email address to iMessage, not to sound psychic but it was only a matter of time until spammers worked this out.


  9. I’ve gotten a few of these and they are annoying – but I typically block them, delete them and forget about them. I don’t think it’s “being taken over by spammers” although it would be nice to ever have to deal with it.


  10. They need to have report as spam right in the details screen of iMessage. It’s too much to ask that a person getting a message on their phone is going to screenshot and then email it to a specific address.


  11. b9bot says:

    I haven’t received any spam from iMessages. If that were the case as this story tells I should have. But this maybe one of those FUD stories that try a blow things way out of reality. One person got spam and they write 30% are getting spam. Well I’m not seeing it.


  12. Who is cloudmark? Oh yeah someone trying to make a name for themselves. What a bunch of crap..


  13. Interesting. Haven’t been hit by this yet.


  14. I have been receiving bogus “undeliverable” and “Mail Deamon” messages for over 5 days in my Apple email. They are now numbering over 1,000. I spend about 2 hours on the phone to Apple and they were unable to solve the problem. The return address on these messages was the attorney general of Ohio. I also spoke with the Cyber terrorism section of homeland security, and technical representatives from the Attorney General’s office and they have failed to locate and fix the problem. I’m about to junk the apple mail altogether.


  15. I get no spam at all on imessage. I think it comes down to, is your email a spam target. Once your email is in a spammers database it’s over. One thing you can do too. Open imessage and go to “i can be reached through imessage through” and uncheck email addresses there. Be reachable only by number or an email that’s not in a spammers database. You can control where you are reached and just need to eliminate the way spammer is reaching you. Now if they have your phone number then you may be in trouble but it’s far more likely they are reaching you via email and probably do to some mistake made on internet god knows how long ago (once your email is in a public place, it’s over.

    It’s why my number one rule is, use a real email for friends family, yet another one strictly for important logins like banks and CCs. Then finally, a third throw away email like gmail i use for registering anywhere online such as user forums. The only email that gets spam is surprise surprise, the gmail one).


  16. ikir says:

    Nobody i know ever received iMessage spam.


  17. Oliver Guy says:

    If you have “Show Read Reciepts” turned off and you do not reply, they are less likely to continue to send you spam texts. It’s that simple. However if they know that you read it, they will add you to a permanent list and continue to send you spam.


  18. John Smith says:

    I’ve never had a single spam message on iMessage – so tend to agree with comments above about not accepting statistics from security companies at face value.

    Useful ‘heads-up’ though.

    If I do start getting them then I will be changing the ‘contact at’ settings for iMessage.