Porn Spam Gets a Kik Out of You

Contributing Writer
Updated

Spammers want to you to use the instant-messenger mobile app Kik, and they'll promise you lots of porn to get you to do it. The trend of luring sex-starved smartphone users to Kik first kicked off in the summer of 2013, according to Mountain View, California-based security company Symantec, which has been monitoring the trend.

Spammers create "bot" accounts on Twitter, Tinder, Snapchat and other social-media services. These bots, or automated fake accounts, usually have female names and women's pictures, and send other users sexy messages with the promise of continuing a conversation on Kik. 

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On Twitter, for example, the bots track instances of sexually charged words such as "horny," then respond to tweets containing those words with flirty messages. The bots give a Kik username and ask their targets to message them there in order to continue the "conversation."

On dating service Tinder, Symantec says bots which were previously used to push adult-webcam spam switched over to push Kik. On Snapchat, users receive photos of sexy, sometimes nude, women, with the message "Add me on Kik for nudes swap."

Why is Kik, which runs on iOS, Android and Windows Phone, the mobile platform of choice for spammers? Kik's spam monitoring is far less rigorous than those of Twitter or Tinder, meaning spammers are more free to target Kik users. Symantec notes that many Kik users post their usernames publicly on other social-media profiles, making it easy to harvest those usernames and add them to spam lists. 

Kik also has a webcam feature, which allows bots to lure their targets with the prospect of adult-webcam images. 

If you use Kik, you can cut down on spam by upgrading to the most recent version of the mobile app, which can block messages from people you haven't chatted with before. This keeps spam out of your main chat list, though you can still view those messages in another part of the app. 

Symantec also warns users to be skeptical of strangers on any social network, particularly those who appear to be women and send messages out of the blue about going on a webcam or sending sexually explicit photos. They're almost always spambots. 

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