The arrival of filtering required spammers to switch strategy. The carpetbaggers of spam’s youth left the scene, ushering in criminal sophisticates who set to work spoofing the filters. The game had changed. As Finn Brunton recounts in his brilliant history of spam, excerpted here for a second day: “Rather than sales pitches for goods or sites, they [messages] could be used for phishing, identity theft, credit card scams, and infecting the recipient’s computer with viruses, worms, adware, and other forms of dangerous and crooked malware. A successful spam message could net many thousands of dollars, rather than $5 or $10 plus whatever the spammer might make selling off their good addresses to other spammers.” Brunton illustrates the ingenuity of this transformation by detailing the highly inventive litspam—the hijacking of entire texts of Borges or Conan Doyle to waltz past spam filtering algorithms.
Litspam was only the beginning, to be followed by splogs, content farms and more. Enter the spam underworld for a second day. A table of contents guides you through the chapter—and, if you missed it, go back and read Part One of this captivating book excerpt.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Filtering: Scientists and Hackers [Excerpt, Part 1]
Part 1 of the Spam book excerpt series
Fooling spam filters by including neutral words lifted from works of great literature
The New Suckers
Weaknesses in filtering and in spam attacks persist. Meet the 15 idiots
“New Twist in Affect”: Splogging, Content Farms and Social Spam
The betrothal of spam and the blog in the form of the splog confuses search engine page-rank systems
Reprinted from Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet, by Finn Brunton. Copyright © 2013, by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Used with permission of the publisher, the MIT Press.