Spammers are sending out mysterious messages filled with quotes from classic literature. For some time, spammers have culled repositories of written English to provide filter-confusing "word-salads" in their messages; I've even gotten spams containing passages lifted from my own online writing. The new messages don't contain any come-ons for boner pills or porn, which has led spamfighters to speculate that these are either ineptly sent messages coming from spambots that can't contact the mothership and find out what they should be advertising today, or messages that are supposed to "un-train" spam filters by making them think that statistically normal English phrases are suspect, making spam-recipients so frustrated over false positives that they switch off their filters.
A variety of explanations for the spurt and its source are emerging. One theory, according to several Web developers and analysts, is that spammers are seeking to thwart spam filters by confusing them. Spammers sometimes embed passages of this type of story text, also known as "hashbusting text," throughout their spam message in a bid to pass as legitimate email. (Spam filters may classify certain mail as spam if its combination of words and phrases deviates too widely from those typically found in legitimate email.) By sending spam consisting only of this story text, they are hoping that users will report it as spam, throw the filters off and make them less able to catch malicious spam later on, according to this theory.
Others, arguing that most spam filters are far too advanced to be thrown off by this technique, posit a different explanation. Richi Jennings, an email security analyst at Ferris Research, a San Francisco-based market-research firm, says the "empty spam" is most likely caused by a communication failure between the server originating the spam and the infected computers sending it.
Most spam is first sent by a host server and then modified and pushed out by virus-infected computers known as zombies. If the host and the zombies aren't communicating, either because the host has been shut down or as a result of some software glitch, the zombies could be sending blank emails with the "hashbusting text" tagged on, he argues. The likelihood of both possibilities is increasing, he says, as Internet companies remove spam servers from the network.
This gadget does exactly as promised: it looks like a thumbdrive (sort of) and fries the circuitry of any computer it’s plugged into. It’s made from camera flash parts, is charged with a standard AA battery, and delivers a 300V zap of DC destruction to the port for all your USB-murdering needs. Note that this […]
The Cobham catalog, exposed by The Intercept, features countless pages of surveillance gadgets sold to U.S. police to spy on American citizens: tiny black boxes with a big interest in you. In the creepily bland feature lists and nerdy product names is a whisper of a dark future; perhaps darker than anyone can imagine.
This image depicts the most commonly-found stylesheet colors on the web’s top sites—Paul Hebert did an amazing amount of analysis and this is just one of the intriguing visualizations he came up with. Most of these are obvious staples, especially HTML red and blue, though it’s interesting how far the blue “cluster” is from the […]
Loot Crate is a totally different kind of subscription service that mails subscribers monthly boxes filled with curated geek, pop culture, and gamer paraphernalia. Its cult following awaits a box every month filled with everything from bobble heads to T-shirts to special edition collectibles. But nothing gets Loot Crate fans as excited as the limited […]
The ARMOR-X Mini Flexible Phone Tripod is a smartphone tripod that is designed with flexible legs to rest on virtually any type of surface. Other tripods have proved useless unless I conveniently have a flat surface in front of me, which is why this particular tripod was appealing enough to try out. The ARMOR-X is compact and easy […]
You don’t need to get an advanced degree and take out massive loans to become a coder. This bundle of 10 courses was designed to teach anyone to code at home for less than it costs to go out for dinner. I was particularly impressed with this new 2017 bundle because it includes courses on […]