Image Spam on the Rise - A Closer Look at Image Spam
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Craig Sprosts of anti-spam company IronPort Systems notes that much image spam seems to be coming from gangs in the United States and Russia. Most of it is trying to lure victims for pump-and-dump stock scams. You've probably seen them, promising that a particular stock will take off very soon and telling you to start buying it immediately. The scammer then turns around and sells the stock to make a profit.
Dmitri Allperovitch, a research engineer with CipherTrust, provided some insight into how these scams work. "These are Pink Sheet stocks, traded on the OTC bulletin boards, that typically don't get a lot of volume. They're niche companies with no profit and no products, so when you see a spike from almost no trades to two or three million when the spam is sent out, you know there were a lot of people who fell for it."
Aside from the problem of not being stopped by many conventional spam filters, image spam creates a serious bandwidth issue for many companies. An increase of forty percent in the amount of conventional spam getting through would be bad enough, but these messages are images, not text, and consequently take up more space. Numbers vary, but experts have estimated that a piece of image spam is typically anywhere from three to more than seven times as large as a similar piece of text-based spam.
And spammers continue to come up with new ways to make their messages look different and slip past the spam filters. Richi Jennings, an analyst with Ferris Research, noted in June that "We're now seeing things like taking a big image and splitting it up into different sized tiles that fit together when you view the message. The size and shape of the tiles varies from message to message, so it can be difficult to spot."
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