Spammers or hackers?

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Spammers are using hacker-style tricks such as header forgery, randomising and subject switching to bypass filtering systems in corporate networks, according to David Jones, VP of global research at e-mail filtering company SurfControl.

Jones told a SPAM seminar that SPAM has become a lucrative, commercial venture for gangs that generate mass SPAM. "The gangs are paid per e-mail address and per website form response and lower response rates and basic filtering systems can actually trigger more spam."

He said the company is seeing "thousands" of incidences of spammers using this technique. "We see many different variants of those techniques on a daily basis. They [spammers] are using hacker techniques to fiddle with the MIME and the HTML," he said.

SurfControl has it own "honeypot" mail server that it uses to attract spammers. "We also use probe mailboxes to pick up these things in real time," he said.

Spam-gang tricks also include sending SPAM emails out in small batches so they go undetected by normal triggers used to identify junk email, he said.

SurfControl MD Charles Heunemann said there was no silver bullet to counteract spam. "10 billion spam messages are sent every day worldwide and the cost to organisations is skyrocketing," he said.


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