Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The most bizarre spam yet

I got this message in my inbox. It bypassed the gmail spam filter, as it was somehow sent from the same account as mine!

This is a bit scary. If I marked it as spam, my emails might start getting blocked by everyone who has a gmail account!

The weird thing is that the message was the predictable "July is the time to get that special Bv1gari w4tch," etc. - but it appeared blank in my email client (Apple Mail). It also had no links for me to follow, if I was the kind of person inclined to throw away money to spammers.

3 comments:

jasonjyee said...

If you're using apple mail.app, then you should mark it as spam. the spam settings for mail.app are local (so it won't affect anyone but you) and based off a really complex multidimensional array so it's not quite as simple as one gmail spam affecting others. Although it probably will make a slight dent in any emails you send yourself... but that should be rare.

here's sort of a simplification of the system: Imagine that there are only three words in existance: foo, bar, baz. You can create a 3 dimensional graph of every email and how many times it contains each word. Over time (and this is why mail.app has a "training mode") you should be able to see a cluster or grouping of what is spam and what is not. so in the graph, you'd see a cluster of spam messages because characteristically they contain a lot of "foo"... so we can assume new messages that are similar are also spam.

now back to the real world, imagine a huge multi-dimensional space that analyzes every word (and grows when new words are added) and all sorts of relationships (from address, to address, subject, hidden header data, etc). So it's not just gmail, but mail.app will probably chart that message and begin building a spam cluster where you are the sender AND the recipient and the subject and body contain some unique misspellings.

Paul Merrill said...

Thanks for the tip, Jason!

Rob said...

Before I had Gmail my address was being used for spam. I was getting 4 and 5 spam messages per day from myself.