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Spammers latch onto Ping to pump iPhone survey scams

Quick off the mark

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Spammers have been quick off the mark in exploiting Apple's new iTunes social network to punt survey scams.

Ping only launched on Wednesday but is already being deluged with scams and spam messages, some attempting to dupe surfers into wasting their time completing online surveys under the false promise that they stand a chance of receiving a free iPhone in return for their efforts.

The service, built into the latest version of iTunes, gives users the ability to build networks of friends and share musical tastes or make suggestions. It also allows users to post comments, a facility spammers have been quick to latch onto and exploit for their own nefarious purposes.

Survey scams have become endemic on Facebook over recent months. A lack of filtering on Ping means the fraudsters have gained a new forum through which to peddle scams, net security firm Sophos warns.

"Most of the security industry has been pointing out the migration of spam from an email-only venture to blog/forum comments, Facebook, Twitter and other Web 2.0 platforms," writes Chester Wisniewski of Sophos. "But apparently Apple didn't consider this when designing Ping, as the service implements no spam or URL filtering. It is no big shock that less than 24 hours after launch, Ping is drowning in scams and spams."

Oddly, Apple seems to have anticipated a certain degree of mischief, since uploaded profile pictures only appear after approval, a move designed to prevent Ping plumbing the mucky depths of Chatroulette. Apple is likely to be filtering out other forms of offensive content, and these might be tweaks to block spam, according to Wisniewski. In the meantime, Ping users are advised to be wary, especially about suspiciously generous offers.

More details of the Ping spam attacks, including screenshots, can be found in a write-up here. ®

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