Spate of Spam Spoils Apple's iMessage Service in China
Liu Jing | Tang Shihua
DATE:  Jul 24 2018
/ SOURCE:  Yicai
Spate of Spam Spoils Apple's iMessage Service in China Spate of Spam Spoils Apple's iMessage Service in China

(Yicai Global) July 24 -- Many Chinese iPhone users have fallen prey to bombardments by illegal advertisements delivered via Apple's iMessage service that spread information about online gambling and other dodges, and these users cannot stop receiving the spam even after complaining to the US tech mammoth, China Youth Daily reported.

"[I] tried to blacklist the senders and filed complaints with Apple about the accounts that sent the spams, but the problem is that they always use different accounts," a user complained.

"You have to 'jailbreak' your Apple device; otherwise you can't use a third-party security app to automatically interrupt spam messages in the iOS environment," a smartphone security specialist pointed out. Jailbreaking is the removal of software restrictions imposed by Apple to add unauthorized software and apps.

Most of the gambling websites generating the spams are registered outside China -- mostly in Hong Kong and a smaller number in Malaysia, Japan, North America and  the Seychelles -- and most of their servers are rented from foreign firms, per the report.

"As a company with enormous global influence, Apple has the responsibility to take all possible measures to stop spamming," said Fan Guomin with Jiangsu province-based Nuofa Law Firm, adding that the main reason for this phenomenon is the existence of a profitable black market revolving around spam ads.

Low cost and high concentration are the main reasons for iMessage's popularity among spammers, a market insider noted.

The built-in app is free to use, so sellers can mass text at practically zero cost, and the profit is pretty high, he added. Some do not screen content and 'send anything as ordered,' even if it contains illegal gambling ads.

The reporter found many iMessage texting agent ads on Alibaba Group Holding's Taobao, Xianyu and other e-commerce sites, which have detailed descriptions of mass texting services and their marketing results. Similar content is also found on WeChat and QQ chat groups, both backed by Chinese internet titan Tencent Holdings. "An iMessage texting service is priced at CNY0.12 (USD0.018) per successfully delivered message, but this can be discounted to CNY0.1 if the volume exceeds 100,000 messages," one seller said.

A complete spamming  sector has thus taken shape surrounding iMessage mass texting services, consisting of ad production, push device manufacturing and sales, user account collection, spam push, delivery volume measurement and charge collection segments, the market insider said. Each link in the chain lures many companies, service providers and distributors.

To reword a pre-World War II saying: The spammers will always get through.

Editor: Ben Armour

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Keywords:   IPHONE,IMessage,Illegal Message Service,Apple