Spammers using shortened URLs to spread their muck

Message Labs – part of internet security guru Symantec – is warning that shortened URLs are becoming an issue in terms of spam.

This graph shows how the inclusion of shortened URLs in spam email has increased from practically nothing a to almost 2% in just a few days:


Shortened URLs are perfect for spammers because not only do they mask dodgy sounding domain names that users would usually be wary of, they also help spam mail bypass anti-spam programmes. Services such as tinyurl are also free and require no registration.

Matt Sergeant from Message Labs, said: “The entire trust model of clicking on the URL is completely broken,” he said. He also said it was impossible to trust URLs on Twitter as many people retweet links, often without even clicking on them first themselves.

(via NYTimes)

Stupid spammers attempt to fool Brits with "Postcode Lottery" win


A number of email spammers couldn’t be bothered to do basic research on a British colloquialism, and tried to fool users into thinking they’d won a “Postcode Lottery”.

The email claims, “Winner We bring to your notice the winning letter from Nationale Postcode Lottery {United Kingdom Promotion Company} held on the 8th of May, 2008 through Internet ballot System among 10,000 Microsoft users.”…

Spammers crack open 'captcha' codes, report suggests

captcha_code.gifA report from security firm BitDefender suggests that spammers may have found a way to automatically break through certain types of graphical “captcha” code.

“Captchas” are used in an attempt to restrict certain online registrations and other interactions to real human beings, rather than automated robots. They’re a fairly controversial method that are supposed to reduce the amount of spam circulating the web, but are difficult or impossible for some humans to read, as well as adding another level of complexity to simple processes.