Terry Zink: Security Talk

Discussing Internet security in (mostly) plain English

Caught in another spam run

Caught in another spam run

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As I write this (October 5, 2006) we are currently experiencing another spam storm.  Unlike previous spam storms, this seems to be a multi-pronged attack.  I don't know if the same spammers are flooding us with spam but the format of the spam is common to all the types we are seeing.  That would imply different spammers, as even spammers have distinctive styles.  Or should I say <style></style>?  Note: that comment would be quite funny to an anti-spam fighter.

On the one hand, we are seeing the typical image spam with the HTML tags slightly re-arranged.  Anti-spam crusaders elsewhere have commented that these are different types of messages on a technical level, not to mention the slight differences in the spam image payload.  To the naked eye, these messages look the same but to the spam filter they are a different ball of wax then the spam messages that hit your email inbox last week.  On the other hand, we also see some image spam with images attached to the message, rather than inserted inline.  These messages are just as annoying because if your email software displays images that are attached by default, then that means you will see the spam payload.  Of course, irregardless of whether or not you view the images, spam in the inbox is just plain annoying.

The good news is (as always) that we are working on it and are responding to it as quickly as we can.  The first type of spam I mentioned we have seen before so we can react quickly.  The second type of spam is a new type so it takes us slightly longer to determine our course of action.  But again, the good news is that because we push out rules to block these messages every single day you won't be plagued with these types of things forever.

Image based spam continues to be a problem but we have a couple of aces up our sleeves on this.  It is an industry-wide problem, not just an EHS problem.  Everybody is furiously working on technology to make it easier to block these types of messages.  My bet is that we'll be the first ones, and even if we're not, we'll eventually be the best.

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