Monday, December 08, 2003

Meta-Spam and Spam Evolution

The fastest emerging category of spam in my email inbox is now meta-spam -- that is, spam advertising devices for screening out spam. Some of them even say, “Want to stop getting annoying messages like this one?”

Also on the topic of spam, has anyone else noticed how fast the “Paris Hilton” spamming strategy has evolved? The original messages all spelled her name correctly. But now, presumably to reach people who have created email filters to keep out any subject line with “Paris” or “Hilton” in it, the latest messages all refer to “Par1s Hiltun,” “Parris Hi1t0n,” and so on. I have to wonder what fraction of the people who actually took the time to create an anti-PH spam filter will nonetheless eventually succumb to the temptation and click a link to see “Par1s Hiltun” doing amateur porn. The spammers must think the fraction is non-zero, or else they presumably wouldn’t bother with the modifications. Incidentally, I have not created any such filter yet, and yet it seems that all the messages have the young lady’s name misspelled now. There must be a selection mechanism at work here, such as the spammers noticing higher response rates on the messages with misspellings.

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