Apple Suggests iMessage As SMS Bug Work-Around - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile
Commentary
8/20/2012
10:40 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
50%
50%

Apple Suggests iMessage As SMS Bug Work-Around

Rather than fixing a security problem discovered last week, Apple tells users concerned with SMS spoofing to use its iMessage product instead of text messages.

Apple iPhone 5 Vs. Samsung Galaxy S III: What We Know
Apple iPhone 5 Vs. Samsung Galaxy S III: What We Know
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Apple's response to the security hole discovered in its iOS platform is pretty much worthless and misses the point entirely.

"Apple takes security very seriously," said Apple in a statement sent to Engadget over the weekend. "When using iMessage instead of SMS, addresses are verified which protects against these kinds of spoofing attacks. One of the limitations of SMS is that it allows messages to be sent with spoofed addresses to any phone, so we urge customers to be extremely careful if they're directed to an unknown website or address over SMS."

In other words, Apple suggests that users concerned with the security of their smartphone should trust iMessage instead of SMS. If only it were that easy.

iMessage is only available to Apple's iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers. It uses the Internet to send short messages between devices rather than the traditional pipes used to deliver text--or SMS--messages. It works really well for iOS and Apple device users, and is helpful because it syncs conversations across devices. I can start an iMessage conversation on my iPhone and continue it later from my desktop.

As Apple said above, iMessage users are verified against email addresses, Apple accounts, and also phone numbers that can be attributed to real people.

[ Apple doesn't talk about security very often. Read Apple Security Talk Suggests iOS Limits. ]

In the real world, though, most people buying new smartphones aren't choosing the iPhone and iMessage--they're picking Android smartphones. Further, there are still plenty of other smartphone options out there: Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Symbian, and so on. Hundreds of millions of people out there are sending text messages the old fashioned way because they don't have access to iMessage.

It's also worth pointing out that bad guys don't play by the rules. People who are serious about ripping off others probably won't be using accounts that can be tied to their real identity.

So what's an iPhone user to do in this case? As Apple (and the researcher pod2G who discovered the bug) says, don't click on links in SMS messages if you don't know with certainty who the sender is. Additionally, don't send personal information in response to SMS messages from financial or other institutions.

Android and Apple devices make backup a challenge for IT. Look to smart policy, cloud services, and MDM for answers. Also in the new, all-digital Mobile Device Backup issue of InformationWeek: Take advantage of advances that simplify the process of backing up virtual machines. (Free with registration.)

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Slideshows
11 Things IT Professionals Wish They Knew Earlier in Their Careers
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  4/6/2021
News
Time to Shift Your Job Search Out of Neutral
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  3/31/2021
Commentary
Does Identity Hinder Hybrid-Cloud and Multi-Cloud Adoption?
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  4/1/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
Video
Current Issue
Successful Strategies for Digital Transformation
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Slideshows
Flash Poll