News: The Spam Top Ten

By | July 9, 2003
  From the We Already Knew That But It’s Still Interesting Dept,  FrontBridge Technologies Inc, which calls itself “a trusted provider of email protection and secure
messaging services” (as opposed, presumably, to those Distrusted Providers of Email Protection, or the Somewhat Trusted Except When They’ve Had A Beer Or Two Providers of Email Protection) have, after evaluating hundreds of millions of messages (no really, they say this, I’m not making it up), “today revealed the top ten deceptive subject lines that spammers use to entice their target recipients into opening spam emails”.
This, of course, is all an effort to promote something called the FrontBridge TrueProtect(TM) Spam Analyzer, which “filters and analyzes message characteristics for more than 1,200 enterprise email domains” but sounds much more like something out of Monty Python and the Holy Email or an old Woody Allen flick. Anyway, in case you’re still interested, FrontBridge’s spam analysts “assessed deceptive subject lines in spam received by the company’s large base of business customers, and then ranked the subject lines based on frequency”. Here’s what they found (they even tell you the deception strategy, just in case you’ve had a lunchtime beer or two yourself and couldn’t figure out the spammers’ devilish ways on your own):
The Top 10 Trickiest Spammer Subject Lines:
Subject Line:                                    Deception Strategy:
1. RE: Information you asked for           1. Implies you’ve requested something
2. hey                                               2. Most common friendly intro
3. Check this out!                               3. Common intro to friendly forward
4. Is this your email?                           4. Poses as old friend or colleague
5. Please resend the email                   5. Implies you’ve sent an email first
6. RE: Your order                               6. Implies you’ve bought something
7. Past due account                           7. Worries recipient re: financial debt
8. Please verify your                           8. Implies a sign-up or order placed information
9. Version update                              9. Fake software update via email
10. RE: 4th of July                           10. Guesses at holiday plans
So now you know. Actually, buried in all this glaring obviousness is an interesting point. The use of these kind of tactics has increased, FrontBridge say, more than 50% in the first six months of the year. That’s quite a trend.
The moral of the tale? If you send someone an email, try to think of a subject header that doesn’t sound like it could be this new kind of spam. Oh, and pity the FrontBridge spam analysts having to trawl through all this dross to compile their top ten. Let’s hope they aren’t planning to update it every week.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.