In iMessage, your email address is linked to your phone number. So if someone has your email address or phone number, they can easily spam you via Apple's text messaging platform. This is worse for a couple of reasons. First, iMessage comes to your phone, but it also shows up on your Mac and iPad, and second, Apple does not provide an automated way to get rid of spammers.
According to a report by Wired, citing security researcher Tom Landesman of Cloudmark, this problem only appeared in the past year. The spammers are so aggressive, their messages now count as one third of mobile spam. The Cloudmark team explains how, in the beginning, the spammers were promoting imitation designer handbags and now they went the knock-off luxury sunglasses route.
This way of sending spam is easier for the ones who do it. Landesman says that it can be done with just four lines of code, using AppleScript.
The system works in such a way, that if you enter a phone number, the OS X Messages app will confirm if that number is linked to an iMessage account. Also, when you send a message, the app shows if it was delivered and when it was read. That can help the spammers build an automated confirmed list of targets.
Apple cannot possibly stop a spammer automatically. The user is the one that has to block the sender. In order to do that, you need to go into the Settings app and tap on Messages – iMessage. Then go to the Blocked and add the number of the sender.
The tech giant has provided a page with instructions on how you can report unwanted messages. You need to include a screenshot of the message, the full email address or phone number of the sender and the date and time when the message was received.
If you don't know how to take a screenshot, Apple has got you cover at least on that. Just press the Sleep/Wake button together with the Home button. The screenshot will be added to your Photos.app in the Camera Roll album. The steps are similar on an iPad or iPod touch.
If you are on a Mac, you can take a screenshot by pressing Command+Shift+3 to get the whole screen or Command + Shift + 4 to get crosshairs and just capture the area of the message you want to send. The screenshot will be saved to your desktop, and from there you can send it to the same address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This will probably activate Apple's spam team and the spammer's account will be put on hold or completely removed in a matter of days. Unfortunately for the regular user, anyone can create an iCloud account in minutes, faster than Apple can background check and delete the old spammers.