Spam, Scams Plague Ping

Filed as News on September 12, 2010 10:08 pm

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Apple PingWith Apple’s new iTunes-based social network Ping skyrocketing past 1 million users in its first two days, it was perhaps inevitable that it come strongly across the radar of hackers, spammers, and scammers. In fact, it took less than 24 hours for the first wave to spam to appear. Now the same problems that have long plagued other popular networks like Facebook and Twitter have taken root in Ping.

The million dollar question is: how effectively, and quickly, can Apple not only eradicate existing spam, but prevent future spam from occurring?

According to eSecurity Planet, Bradley Anstis of M86 Security suggests Apple could begin by effectively disabling links in comments, since comments are the offending medium. “It would be too much to manage comment approvals, but implementing some form of automation to strip out links from comments is a good starting point,” he said.

The scams in question are frequently the tried and true “win an iPod”, “win an iPhone”, or “win an iPad” malware-laden trickery – strangely finding their way to Apple’s home turf. Whether or not this gives the scams an added layer of authenticity for the gullible or just plain unfortunate is left to speculation.

Apple did take steps to correct the problem by manually erasing spam comments from their popular artist pages. While there is a major component of Ping that requires intervention from Apple, the approval of profile photographs, the efficiency of deleting spam comments manually is subject to question. Apple also deleted the fake accounts responsible for the trouble, which included some impersonators of high profile people such as Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Data Storage Today reports Ping’s woes are just the latest in mounting evidence that scammers are increasingly targeting social networks. Research published by Sophos showed that the past year has seen a 70% increase in social network user reports of spam and malware.

Ping users and social media writers alike are expressing disappointment that Apple didn’t have the forethought to include a measure of anti-spam protection in their Ping release. Instead, their only inkling of potential wrong-doing seemed to be in the aforementioned profile pictures. Last week tweaks were made to Ping to ease navigation, but none addressing the pressing spam problem have yet been applied.

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