Image Spam: The New Email Scourge

McAfee Avert Labs has just published a white paper on “Image Spam: The New Email Scourge.”  Today, spam has taken on a whole new look. It’s more colorful, often appears grainy, contains less text, and sometimes is slightly askew. This relatively new phenomenon is known as image spam—junk email that contains pictures rather than just text.

One of the most prevalent image spam ploys, called “pump and dump,” is a highgrowth criminal industry that doesn’t use any URLs at all. It’s a remarkable piece of social engineering and market manipulation.

Spammers buy low-cost stocks and send out image spam displaying a real stock market symbol in the hopes that gullible people will buy the stock and hike up the share price. Inevitably, a certain percentage of recipients fall for the scheme and purchase the stock in the hopes of making a profit. When the share price shoots up, spammers sell off their stock and take the money and run.

Image spam is a moving target because spammers frequently change their spamming tools as well as the content and format of their messages, so you cannot rely on one technique to detect them all. The methods used to detect image spam today may be obsolete by next year or even next month. Accurate image spam detection requires a combination of sophisticated technologies and ongoing research.

Free PDF : Image Spam: The New Email Scourge.



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