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Showing posts from May, 2007

Back from the EU Spam Symposium; here's my talk

So I'm back home from the 2007 EU Spam Symposium which was held in Vienna in Austria and you can grab my presentation here . You'll notice that the presentation template is from MailChannels . They very kindly sponsored my trip to Vienna and so I did a little publicity for them. There's only one slide, however, that's actually anything to do with MailChannels in the entire presentation, so don't expect a product pitch! One thing I didn't mention in my talk was that as the number of Internet hosts expands and the number of broadband subscribers grows the number of competing botnets can also grow. That means I'd expect to see the price of botnet rental dropping as the Internet grows leading to lower costs for spammers. I'll give a complete round up of the conference in my newsletter next week, but overall there were some interesting talks, and meeting some people like Richard Cox from SpamHaus and Richard Clayton was very useful.

Some architectural details of Signal Spam

Finally, Signal Spam , France's new national anti-spam system, launched and I'm able to talk about it. For a brief introduction in English start here . I'm not responsible for the idea behind Signal Spam, nor for its organization, but I did write almost all the code used to run the site and the back end system. This blog post talks a little bit about the design of Signal Spam. Signal Spam lets people send spams via either a web form, or a plug-in. Plug-ins are currently available for Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007 and Thunderbird 2.0; more coming. Currently Signal Spam does three things with every message: it keeps a copy in a database after having extracted information from the body and headers of the message; it figures out if the message came from an ISP in France and if so sends an automatic message to the ISP indicating that they've got a spammer or zombie in their network; it figures out if the message was actually a legitimate e-marketing message from a Frenc

Perhaps OCRing image spams really is working?

I've previously been skeptical of the idea that OCRing image spams was a worthwhile effort because of the variety of image-obfuscation techniques that spammers had taken to using. But Nick FitzGerald has recently sent me an example of an image spam that seems to indicate that spammers are concerned about the effectiveness of OCR. Here's the image: What's striking is that the spammer has used the same content-obscuring tricks that we've seen with text (e.g. Viagra has become [email protected]@), perhaps out of fear that the OCRing of images is working and revealing the text within the images. Or perhaps this spammer is just really paranoid.