Apple’s Ping Succumbs to the Spammers

As social networking continues to rise in popularity, it’s more-or-less inevitable that advertisers and spammers will see social media sites as prime hunting grounds.

New social network built inside iTunes fails to keep out the spammers, showing a curse of social media – even inside proprietorial walls

Apple chief Steve Jobs’s trumpeting of the 160 million credit card holders on iTunes was a siren call to spammers. As if they needed any invitation.

The most common incidence of scamming on Apple’s latest social venture, Ping, is the offering of free iPhones from a dodgy URL. These avatar-less lurkers are mostly hanging around Ping’s more famous participants – Katy Perry, for instance.

As MacRumors points out, no credit card details are needed to sign up for an iTunes Store account – the requisite accreditation for joining Ping – which would appear the spammers’ way in.

“[Ping] implements no spam or URL filtering,” says internet security firm Sophos, adding that the service is “drowning in scams and spams”.

And it appears that Ping has also received a touch of the early-day Twitter, musician Ben Folds last night saying that an account had been created in his name. Verified accounts, Mr Jobs? (And are you sure those were Jack Johnson’s tour photos? Was that really Coldplay’s Chris Martin on stage on Wednesday?)

Graham Clulely, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: “We’re used to survey scams like this being spread far and wide via sites like Facebook, but clearly the lack of filtering on Ping is making it a brand new playground for the bad guys to operate in.

“It’s ironic that the most common scams on Ping right now revolve around Apple’s own iPhone. It’s safe to assume that Ping does incorporate some rudimentary filtering to prevent offensive messages from being posted, so hopefully Apple’s security team can extend this to also block scam messages and malicious links. In the meantime, though, Ping users should be wary of believing what they read on the new service.”

Remember back in 2009 when Twitter was plagued by spammers? This is what happened when the site announced a declaration of war on spam in October last year:

Sophos also say the iTunes 10 update fixes 13 “separate vulnerabilities” in the components used to render the iTunes interface.

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