Image email spam arrives in its billions

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Statistics from the IronPort Threat Operation Centre show that the volume of email spam continues to soar, with the greatest threat coming from image-based spam.

Unless you have an incredibly watertight email address, or on-the-ball ISP or mail software, you’re bound to have seen it.

It’s popular with spammers because traditional email filtering technology bases its results largely on the text contained within email. Image spam doesn’t have that (or else, is fairly innocuous).

You’ll either get spam with a screenshot of the website they want you to visit, or the stock option they want you to buy, or whatever else they’re after.

It’s certainly a pain to me and I’m sure it is to many others. It’s very easy to create the spam, and quite hard to deflect.

Solutions need to encompass a range of techniques, not just text recognition, including using reputation databases and analysing traffic patterns. And those solutions need to come fast, because some experts are saying that the proportion of image spam is around 25%, sometimes peaking at 40%, of all spam.

In the meantime, perhaps one small mercy is that occasionally, very occasionally, the email is amusing.

Andy Merrett