Spammers Sour iTunes Social Networking Debut

Dennis Faas's picture

As part of the latest iTunes version 10, Apple has recently launched a new social website feature called "Apple Ping," which keeps their 160 million music lovers connected with their friends, family and favorite song artists.

Apple Ping Hijacked by Online Fraudsters

Not surprisingly to some, however, the Apple Ping service was hijacked by hackers within hours after its debut, souring what was to be a promising reception from music, social engineering and Apple enthusiasts.

To online criminals, the timing and forum for which to scam unsuspecting users could not have been better: millions of people who are not sure what to expect from the new service came together at one specified destination. Mix in iTunes, the pay service that allows consumers to make purchases via credit card, and you have the perfect lure for fraudsters.

Apple Fails to Heed Malware and Spam Warnings

Graham Cluley, a senior security consultant at Sophos, blasted Apple's prevention strategies, saying that "If Apple had implemented some anti-spam technology, pre-filtering the messages for malicious or fraudulent links, then that might have prevented the problem from becoming as big as it is." (Source:

Security firm Sophos earlier this year predicted a 70 per cent increase in social networking spam and malware, with the trend expected to grow in the future.

The most common form of deception used by online scammers (as reported by victims) attempts to trick unsuspecting users into believing that they would receive a free iPhone after completing a short survey.

Victim Reactions Worrisome for Apple

Some analysts suggest that Apple's biggest fear would be reaction from users who used the service early on, only to find they were duped.

For some, the situation might be enough to turn them away in favor of an older, but nonetheless 'more reliable' social networking site like Facebook or Twitter, even if these forums are just as likely to be targeted by scammers.

Cluley believes that the situation has already resulted in irreparable problems for Apple. Within hours of being duped, Cluley noted that hundreds of people logged on to Twitter to vent their frustrations with the Apple service, saying that Apple Ping is 'next to useless' until the spam problem is controlled. (Source:

Rate this article: 
No votes yet