Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

18Jun/07Off

Discussing A Problem That Has Absolutely Nothing To Do With An Erection Lasting More Than Four Hours Really

I've always been fascinated by the rapid adaptation of spam 'bots to get past most of the common spam filtering techniques. I shudder when I hear about people using the old 'block sender' and then wondering (and, believe me, I hear about this at least once daily) why that methodology is not only less effective as time, in seconds, passes. The randomness injected into the messages has always amused me at least while the technique is fresh and it isn't the typical tedium of waiting for enough pieces of spam to be correctly tagged in order for filters to start picking them out predictably.

The semantic war between spammers and filtering is more than a little viral in nature which makes this article about the 'mutation' of spam and immune response to it pretty interesting stuff if a bit on the bionic dodo bird side of theoretical. One thing about the theoretical approach is that the author actually spends some time thinking about how spam could be more intelligently constructed:

Something else to keep in mind is that spammers could choose to improve quality rather than increase quantity. One conclusion I took away from my sodden experience of reading 10,000 spams was that if we can't have less spam, we really need better spam. And there's no reason why it all has to be so monotonous and unpalatable. Just because someone is selling a sleazy, counterfeit and probably illegal product doesn't mean the advertising has to be verbal and visual sludge. On the contrary, it's the worst products that need the best marketing (think of cigarettes). I suppose this is a way of saying that the end of spam is not death but transfiguration.

This at least brings back some measure of competition between spammer and filtering software whereas the canonical approach these days, other than trying to poison Bayesian filters by filling them with suspicious garbage, is to flood every available opening with the hope that in an instance or two there will be no filtering or that they'll hit retiree gold.

The whole thing does make me wonder though after all of the combat with filters that requires huge amount of gibberish, special characters, and spelling reconfigurations just to emerge from the other side unscathed who actually responds to this crap. I'd love to see a study of that: who merrily clicks through a link that is completely encapsulated in trash text and other typographical litter? Obviously it works for someone and the cost of entry is next to nothing but still...

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