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Oddball emails with even odder content

   
3:19 am on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Since the late '03 nastynasties as far as worms/virii go (none of which I was "infected" with due to various firewalls and other assorted preventatives), I've been seeing MORE than numerous mails with apparently "random" words in not only subject but message body.

Since I run all my mail through Mailwasher before it ever hits my machine, I routinely blacklist/bounce/delete anything of this nature. But WHAT ARE THEY? If I open one, will it pop a truly objectionable porn photo onto my desktop? or will it infect my network with something I have to do a complete wipe to remove? or will it send me to Mars in the next century? [THAT would be fun!....]

Anyone have a definitive answer?

3:36 am on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator lawman is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



>>objectionable porn photo

Please forward all such photos to me. I will consult with macguru and we will determine if any are objectionable. ;)

lawman

BTW, I have no definitive answer.

1:09 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member macguru is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



LOL!

OK, I maybe have some Idea. Anyone can tell a spam by it subject line right? Random words in it gets them trough most filters and when they do, they tease the reader more than 'vanilla' SPAM.

Try something, save such mails and open them with some text editor. I bet you can see frames or iframes in the source code of some HTML mail. I believe most email clients are set not to display such content for security reasons. They can be used to 'force' windows to load some nasties like scumware, virus or phone dialers. Since most e-mail clients wont load them you see random words. I am not sure what those are about in body. Can they be used as a key or tracking device?

I have no idea... maybe some 'security consultants' around here can tell.

2:01 pm on Mar 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I think they _are_ a tracking device.
Say you send 1 million of random-words spam emails.
The prog you use for sending that, keeps track of the semantic areas of words in [the subject of] every email sent.
And, because [I suppose..] each of these emails has at least an external image inside ['img src=http://etcetc/uniqueid'], then you're able to summarize which semantic areas are more 'fruitful', in terms of people who open these emails.
12:17 am on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I think they _are_ a tracking device.
Say you send 1 million of random-words spam emails.
The prog you use for sending that, keeps track of the semantic areas of words in [the subject of] every email sent.
And, because [I suppose..] each of these emails has at least an external image inside ['img src=http://etcetc/uniqueid'], then you're able to summarize which semantic areas are more 'fruitful', in terms of people who open these emails.

Ugh. *sigh* Okay, I'll just keep doin' what I'm doin' then! If something nasty occurs it'll be server-side instead of "at home". I think I may email my ISP though, just to let them know what's been observed. I'm assuming they already know, but then one never knows does one?

Thanks all for the replies. Sorry I can't help lawman and Macguru with the "objectionable porn" situation - I'm NOT going there!

2:56 am on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



The random word spam mail you're getting are the spammers way to get their message through Bayesian filters. There are a number of great products out there now using this method and it really does help cut back on spam. Some highly recommended free filters are SpamBayes and POPfile.

Check out Paul Graham's articles about Bayesian filtering to learn more: [paulgraham.com...]

3:07 am on Mar 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Check out Paul Graham's articles about Bayesian filtering to learn more: [paulgraham.com...]

Wow. I'm speechless. (Anyone who knows me will tell you how totally unlikely THAT is!) Thank you.

Thank you!

 

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