Spam And The Art Of Sender Spoofing

By | February 3, 2004

The problem with spam filters that work on the server level is that you end up missing literary gems.

I was pretty excited when I found out a few weeks back that spammers were using literary works in their subject fields. I wrote a few weeks back in the Far Eastern Economic Review (sorry, subscription only; trial available) that I counted nearly 40 e-mails whose subject lines included excerpts from the 1997 Richard Pevear/Larissa Volokhonsky translation of Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, clearly downloaded from Russia’s main library Web site.

But now I’ve noticed in the past week that those spams that I do allow through on one email account come from some interesting email addresses (faked of course), that make me wonder whether they might be applying the same principles to that field. We’re used to meaningless rubbish  — and are two recent examples — but what about these?

I know we shouldn’t encourage spam (nor should we spend too much time reading it) but if the email addresses are going to be faked, it’s good to see it done in style. Next question: Where are the names coming from — few seem to be real ones, if Google is any guide — and what kind of software is throwing up what seem to be random words in the email addresses?

Oh, and by the way, I’ve copyrighted all the names for my next novel, and am seriously considering calling it ‘Henchmen Withdrew’. You can write a Prance Critique of it if you like.

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