Spam advisory on MessageMe a hoax

SINGAPORE - The numerous mobile messages which many Singaporeans have been receiving from a free instant-messaging app called MessageMe was not a "spam virus".

MessageMe clarified this via its Facebook page yesterday, adding that any message with an invitation to join the service will be sent specifically by one of the recipient's contacts.

LittleInc Labs is the US-based company behind the app.

MessageMe was responding to a separate, circulating text message which claimed it was sending spam SMS invites with the intent of compromising user data.

In the post yesterday, MessageMe called this message "a hoax and entirely untrue". It explained that clicking on the link in the invites would merely send users to the app's iTunes Store or Google Play.

Apologising to users for causing any confusion, it also assured users that their privacy is "of utmost importance".

Security experts My Paper spoke to said that while the link within the legitimate MessageMe app is not malicious, the multiple texts received by users could be the result of fake apps or technical glitches.

Mr David Siah, country manager of security firm Trend Micro, said that users may have unknowingly installed spoofed or repackaged apps created by cybercriminals. This is then sent as SMSes without the user's knowledge or consent.

Users may also get SMS invites from strangers because of a technical glitch in terms of how the app retrieves contacts from the data bank, said Mr Stree Naidu, vice-president of Imperva in Asia Pacific and Japan.

The managing director of Computer Guys, Mr Julian Ma, pointed out that all instant-messaging systems carry "the risk of exposing security information about its users". This is because all information is stored or exchanged on a central server hosted by its service providers, he said.

Users should, therefore, always verify the source of the texts they receive, said Mr Ma.

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