WIRED last week released an article detailing how widespread spamming and phishing has become on iMessage. WIRED’s story on the spam within iMessage is based on quotes from Tom Landesman who works at Cloudmark, a security and anti-spam company. Tom Landesman, according to WIRED, stated that, a year ago, he had never once seen spam floating around on iMessage. All of which has soon changed thanks to “an aggressive campaign from a junk mailer.” As a result of this “aggressive campaign,” spam on iMessage now accounts for over 30 percent of all mobile spam and phishing messages.
As WIRED pointed out, because the spam is happening on Apple’s network, mobile carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile can’t do anything to join in on the battle against iMessage spam. This makes Apple the only one who is capable of coming up with a long-term solution that can help everyone suffering from iMessage spam.
While common communication tools like E-Mail use a dedicated SPAM inbox to shove potentially unwanted mail from the user’s sight, such practices wouldn’t be best suited for iMessage users. Instead, Apple’s best tactic on the fight against iMessage spam and phishing is a very simple one that shouldn’t be too hard to implement; user authorization.
The Solution to iMessage Spam
What Apple should do is, before a User A can send User B a message using iMessage, User A should first have to send User B a one time request granting them permission to do so. Once User B is prompted with the request, iMessage should then display User A’s email address and contact information so that User B will be able to make an informed decision on whether or not to trust User A.
User authorization may very well be the best move Apple can make when dealing with spam on iMessage.
At the moment, the only thing iMessage users can do to limit the spam (if they are even getting any at all) is to:
- Report the spam: Apple doesn’t make reporting spam convenient. If you want to report the spam you are getting on iMessage, you will have to email a screenshot of the message, include the full email address or phone number you received the unwanted message from and you will have to include the date and time that you received the message and mail that in to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Turn off Alerts from non-listed contacts: While this option is more of a “turning a blind eye” type of deal, users can go to Settings –>Notification Center –> Messages –> Show Alerts from My Contacts so that they will only be notified when the receive a message from someone actually listed in their device’s phone book. The obvious problem with doing this is that you may potentially lose out on notifications from people you might actually know and trust but haven’t gotten around to adding their number to your iOS device for one reason, or another.
There seems to be some controversy regarding whether or not SPAM is as widespread on iMessage as Tom Landesman makes it out to be statistically. While we don’t intend to take part in that argument, we simply believe that user authorization is a very good way for Apple to handle iMessage spam. Even if the statistics are skewed, it’s done nothing but negatively impact Apple’s reputation. Using user authorization would help Apple to restore their reputation as far as iMessage and spam is concerned.